Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

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Balsamo
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Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Balsamo » Fri Jul 03, 2015 11:19 pm

Well, here it is.
I have hesitated to open yet another Wannsee thread for a long time. First because Statmec and I have been through it on Rodoh quite extensively, and second because I wanted to concentrate on the rendition of Forent Brayard new work (well it is of 2012, but it is new to me).

Meanwhile it appeared that many topics is somewhere concerned by the Wannsee conference, and the only discussion on Rodoh had been made impossible even to consult, as it was brought to 80 pages and is full of Deniers craps, so I was thinking that it might not be such a bad idea to reopen it here, while our two resident deniers are on vacation, and have a serious discussion about it.

What finally decided me is that Brayard propose a very new analysis of this conference, which I am proud to say goes a bit in my understanding, but only to make me realize that I was also wrong on many points, again according to one view. it is important to keep in mind that all perspectives and analysis are only relative.

Anyway, as I am reading this book, it also appeared that its complexity would have made it very difficult to be summarized and discussed in one specific topic. So I felt it would be better to introduced the book and present Brayard’s points one topic at a time.

In another thread, Xcalibur posted on Kritzinger testimony on Wannsee (quoted by Jeff) that
“Well, the fact that he was trying to avoid being tried for war crimes might just have influenced his testimony a bit, don'tcha think?”


And he is right.
So as a start let’s have a look on the document.

First its nature: the only thing we have is one single surviving copy (there were 30 of them) of the minutes which were written by no one else than Eichmann, and edited by his boss. And this is very important, as none of the other participants have left a document presenting their perception of the meeting.
The second important element is that at this inter-ministerial meeting, the RSHA is at full force.
Before I made any comment, I will just present the document. I will only bold what I consider important.

At the beginning of the discussion Chief of the Security Police and of the SD, SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich, reported that the Reich Marshal had appointed him delegate for the preparations for the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe and pointed out that this discussion had been called for the purpose of clarifying fundamental questions. The wish of the Reich Marshal to have a draft sent to him concerning organizational, factual and material interests in relation to the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe makes necessary an initial common action of all central offices immediately concerned with these questions in order to bring their general activities into line.

The Reichsführer-SS and the Chief of the German Police (Chief of the Security Police and the SD) was entrusted with the official central handling of the final solution of the Jewish question without regard to geographic borders. The Chief of the Security Police and the SD then gave a short report of the struggle which has been carried on thus far against this enemy, the essential points being the following:


Then are exposed the measures already taken in what I call the still open question that was the Final Solution:

a) the expulsion of the Jews from every sphere of life of the German people,
b) the expulsion of the Jews from the living space of the German people.
In carrying out these efforts, an increased and planned acceleration of the emigration of the Jews from Reich territory was started, as the only possible present solution.
By order of the Reich Marshal, a Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration was set up in January 1939 and the Chief of the Security Police and SD was entrusted with the management. Its most important tasks were
a) to make all necessary arrangements for the preparation for an increased emigration of the Jews,
b) to direct the flow of emigration,
c) to speed the procedure of emigration in each individual case.

The aim of all this was to cleanse German living space of Jews in a legal manner.
All the offices realized the drawbacks of such enforced accelerated emigration. For the time being they had, however, tolerated it on account of the lack of other possible solutions of the problem.

The work concerned with emigration was, later on, not only a German problem, but also a problem with which the authorities of the countries to which the flow of emigrants was being directed would have to deal. Financial difficulties, such as the demand by various foreign governments for increasing sums of money to be presented at the time of the landing, the lack of shipping space, increasing restriction of entry permits, or the cancelling of such, increased extraordinarily the difficulties of emigration. In spite of these difficulties, 537,000 Jews were sent out of the country between the takeover of power and the deadline of 31 October 1941. Of these

approximately 360,000 were in Germany proper on 30 January 1933
approximately 147,000 were in Austria (Ostmark) on 15 March 1939
approximately 30,000 were in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia on 15 March 1939.
The Jews themselves, or their Jewish political organizations, financed the emigration. In order to avoid impoverished Jews' remaining behind, the principle was followed that wealthy Jews have to finance the emigration of poor Jews; this was arranged by imposing a suitable tax, i.e., an emigration tax, which was used for financial arrangements in connection with the emigration of poor Jews and was imposed according to income.

Apart from the necessary Reichsmark exchange, foreign currency had to presented at the time of landing. In order to save foreign exchange held by Germany, the foreign Jewish financial organizations were ­ with the help of Jewish organizations in Germany ­ made responsible for arranging an adequate amount of foreign currency. Up to 30 October 1941, these foreign Jews donated a total of around 9,500,000 dollars.

In the meantime the Reichsführer­SS and Chief of the German Police had prohibited emigration of Jews due to the dangers of an emigration in wartime and due to the possibilities of the East.

Another possible solution of the problem has now taken the place of emigration, i.e. the evacuation of the Jews to the East, provided that the Führer gives the appropriate approval in advance.

These actions are, however, only to be considered provisional, but practical experience is already being collected which is of the greatest importance in relation to the future final solution of the Jewish question.

Approximately 11 million Jews will be involved in the final solution of the European Jewish question, distributed as follows among the individual countries:


I’ll skip the counting.

The number of Jews given here for foreign countries includes, however, only those Jews who still adhere to the Jewish faith, since some countries still do not have a definition of the term "Jew" according to racial principles.

The handling of the problem in the individual countries will meet with difficulties due to the attitude and outlook of the people there, especially in Hungary and Rumania. Thus, for example, even today the Jew can buy documents in Rumania that will officially prove his foreign citizenship.

The influence of the Jews in all walks of life in the USSR is well known. Approximately five million Jews live in the European part of the USSR, in the Asian part scarcely 1/4 million.


Just one comment, as I said in my two FS topic, the fate of the eastern Jews (captured by Barbarossa had already been decided)
I’ll also skip the professional occupation. Here comes maybe the most commented part:

Under proper guidance, in the course of the final solution the Jews are to be allocated for appropriate labor in the East. Able­bodied Jews, separated according to sex, will be taken in large work columns to these areas for work on roads, in the course of which action doubtless a large portion will be eliminated by natural causes.
The possible final remnant will, since it will undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be treated accordingly
, because it is the product of natural selection and would, if released, act as the seed of a new Jewish revival (see the experience of history.)In the course of the practical execution of the final solution, Europe will be combed through from west to east.
Germany proper, including the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, will have to be handled first due to the housing problem and additional social and political necessities.
The evacuated Jews will first be sent, group by group, to so­called transit ghettos, from which they will be transported to the East.



SS­Obergruppenführer Heydrich went on to say that an important prerequisite for the evacuation as such is the exact definition of the persons involved.
It is not intended to evacuate Jews over 65 years old, but to send them to an old­age ghetto ­ Theresienstadt is being considered for this purpose.
In addition to these age groups ­ of the approximately 280,000 Jews in Germany proper and Austria on 31 October 1941, approximately 30% are over 65 years old ­ severely wounded veterans and Jews with war decorations (Iron Cross I) will be accepted in the old­age ghettos. With this expedient solution, in one fell swoop many interventions will be prevented.
The beginning of the individual larger evacuation actions will largely depend on military developments. Regarding the handling of the final solution in those European countries occupied and influenced by us, it was proposed that the appropriate expert of the Foreign Office discuss the matter with the responsible official of the Security Police and SD.
In Slovakia and Croatia the matter is no longer so difficult, since the most substantial problems in this respect have already been brought near a solution. In Rumania the government has in the meantime also appointed a commissioner for Jewish affairs. In order to settle the question in Hungary, it will soon be necessary to force an adviser for Jewish questions onto the Hungarian government.

With regard to taking up preparations for dealing with the problem in Italy, SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich considers it opportune to contact the chief of police with a view to these problems.
In occupied and unoccupied France, the registration of Jews for evacuation will in all probability proceed without great difficulty.
Under Secretary of State Luther calls attention in this matter to the fact that in some countries, such as the Scandinavian states, difficulties will arise if this problem is dealt with thoroughly and that it will therefore be advisable to defer actions in these countries. Besides, in view of the small numbers of Jews affected, this deferral will not cause any substantial limitation.
The Foreign Office sees no great difficulties for southeast and western Europe.
SS-Gruppenführer Hofmann plans to send an expert to Hungary from the Race and Settlement Main Office for general orientation at the time when the Chief of the Security Police and SD takes up the matter there. It was decided to assign this expert from the Race and Settlement Main Office, who will not work actively, as an assistant to the police attaché.”


Now here comes the hard stuff which in my view was the core of what was to be discussed.
As a reminder, the Nuremberg Laws qualified as Jew anyone with 3 Jewish grand-parents or with 2 if the Jew was a religious Jew or was married to a Jew
The first degree was a Jew with 2 Jewish grand-parents, or if one of the parent was Jews (which is quite logical).
The second degree was the Jew with only one Jewish grand-parent, for example the son or daughter of a first degree Jew married to a German.
According to the 1939 census, those were no small affair. The number of first degree Mischlinge was 72.000, and 39.000 of the second degree. Among the Jews, as said in the protocols, 30% were to be exempted, that is over 90.000 people.

In the course of the final solution plans, the Nuremberg Laws should provide a certain foundation, in which a prerequisite for the absolute solution of the problem is also the solution to the problem of mixed marriages and persons of mixed blood.

The Chief of the Security Police and the SD discusses the following points, at first theoretically, in regard to a letter from the chief of the Reich chancellery:

1) Treatment of Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree

Persons of mixed blood of the first degree will, as regards the final solution of the Jewish question, be treated as Jews.

From this treatment the following exceptions will be made:

a) Persons of mixed blood of the first degree married to persons of German blood if their marriage has resulted in children (persons of mixed blood of the second degree). These persons of mixed blood of the second degree are to be treated essentially as Germans.

b) Persons of mixed blood of the first degree, for whom the highest offices of the Party and State have already issued exemption permits in any sphere of life. Each individual case must be examined, and it is not ruled out that the decision may be made to the detriment of the person of mixed blood.

The prerequisite for any exemption must always be the personal merit of the person of mixed blood. (Not the merit of the parent or spouse of German blood.)

Persons of mixed blood of the first degree who are exempted from evacuation will be sterilized in order to prevent any offspring and to eliminate the problem of persons of mixed blood once and for all. Such sterilization will be voluntary. But it is required to remain in the Reich. The sterilized "person of mixed blood" is thereafter free of all restrictions to which he was previously subjected.

2) Treatment of Persons of Mixed Blood of the Second Degree

Persons of mixed blood of the second degree will be treated fundamentally as persons of German blood, with the exception of the following cases, in which the persons of mixed blood of the second degree will be considered as Jews:

a) The person of mixed blood of the second degree was born of a marriage in which both parents are persons of mixed blood.

b) The person of mixed blood of the second degree has a racially especially undesirable appearance that marks him outwardly as a Jew.

c) The person of mixed blood of the second degree has a particularly bad police and political record that shows that he feels and behaves like a Jew.

Also in these cases exemptions should not be made if the person of mixed blood of the second degree has married a person of German blood.

3) Marriages between Full Jews and Persons of German Blood.

Here it must be decided from case to case whether the Jewish partner will be evacuated or whether, with regard to the effects of such a step on the German relatives, [this mixed marriage] should be sent to an old­age ghetto.

4) Marriages between Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree and Persons of German Blood.

a) Without Children.

If no children have resulted from the marriage, the person of mixed blood of the first degree will be evacuated or sent to an old­age ghetto (same treatment as in the case of marriages between full Jews and persons of German blood, point 3.)

b) With Children.

If children have resulted from the marriage (persons of mixed blood of the second degree), they will, if they are to be treated as Jews, be evacuated or sent to a ghetto along with the parent of mixed blood of the first degree. If these children are to be treated as Germans (regular cases), they are exempted from evacuation as is therefore the parent of mixed blood of the first degree.

5) Marriages between Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree and Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree or Jews.

In these marriages (including the children) all members of the family will be treated as Jews and therefore be evacuated or sent to an old­age ghetto.

6) Marriages between Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree and Persons of Mixed Blood of the Second Degree.

In these marriages both partners will be evacuated or sent to an old-age ghetto without consideration of whether the marriage has produced children, since possible children will as a rule have stronger Jewish blood than the Jewish person of mixed blood of the second degree.

SS-Gruppenführer Hofmann advocates the opinion that sterilization will have to be widely used, since the person of mixed blood who is given the choice whether he will be evacuated or sterilized would rather undergo sterilization.

State Secretary Dr. Stuckart maintains that carrying out in practice of the just mentioned possibilities for solving the problem of mixed marriages and persons of mixed blood will create endless administrative work. In the second place, as the biological facts cannot be disregarded in any case, State Secretary Dr. Stuckart proposed proceeding to forced sterilization.

Furthermore, to simplify the problem of mixed marriages possibilities must be considered with the goal of the legislator saying something like: "These marriages have been dissolved."
With regard to the issue of the effect of the evacuation of Jews on the economy, State Secretary Neumann stated that Jews who are working in industries vital to the war effort, provided that no replacements are available, cannot be evacuated.
SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich indicated that these Jews would not be evacuated according to the rules he had approved for carrying out the evacuations then underway.
State Secretary Dr. Bühler stated that the General Government would welcome it if the final solution of this problem could be begun in the General Government, since on the one hand transportation does not play such a large role here nor would problems of labor supply hamper this action. Jews must be removed from the territory of the General Government as quickly as possible, since it is especially here that the Jew as an epidemic carrier represents an extreme danger and on the other hand he is causing permanent chaos in the economic structure of the country through continued black market dealings. Moreover, of the approximately 2 ½ million Jews concerned, the majority is unfit for work.

State Secretary Dr. Bühler stated further that the solution to the Jewish question in the General Government is the responsibility of the Chief of the Security Police and the SD and that his efforts would be supported by the officials of the General Government. He had only one request, to solve the Jewish question in this area as quickly as possible.

In conclusion the different types of possible solutions were discussed, during which discussion both Gauleiter Dr. Meyer and State Secretary Dr. Bühler took the position that certain preparatory activities for the final solution should be carried out immediately in the territories in question, in which process alarming the populace must be avoided.
The meeting was closed with the request of the Chief of the Security Police and the SD to the participants that they afford him appropriate support during the carrying out of the tasks involved in the solution.”


And that is about it.
As I said, I won’t comment it right now. Anyone can of course outline what he feels is important. I will start to comment later, then of course, share Brayard analysis at the end.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Jeff_36 » Sat Jul 04, 2015 3:00 am

IMO this meeting was to get the offices in line with the SD and Heydrich on this issue. A declaration of superiority if you will. The statements of Kritzinger et all indicate that the conference itself discussed the measures in place but was inconclusive. I do not buy Buhler's statements at all as they contain numerous lies.

I tend to ping pong between two view points in my mind here.

1) This meeting is over rated, inconclusive and generally a lot of sound and fury over nothing. The read decision was made some months later and gradually at that. The Goebbles diary indicates that the decision to exterminate the Jews of the GG was made shortly after wannasee.

2) SM's opinion, which makes sense if you turn a blind eye to post war testimony.

I must empathize the differences between myself and Mills on the first point. Mills insists that Goebbles was only referring to the Lublin district in his entry, an obvious lie as Goebbles clearly mentioned the entire Jewish population of the GG and the Western Jews deported there as well.

In official discussion I tend to stick to the first option because of worst case scenario planning.

IMO this is all totally irrelevant because the documentation shows that the ball was rolling by that summer, one way or another, with or without this conference. The solid facts are firmly on our side here.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Balsamo » Mon Jul 06, 2015 11:17 pm

Jeff_36 wrote:IMO this meeting was to get the offices in line with the SD and Heydrich on this issue. A declaration of superiority if you will. The statements of Kritzinger et all indicate that the conference itself discussed the measures in place but was inconclusive. I do not buy Buhler's statements at all as they contain numerous lies.

I tend to ping pong between two view points in my mind here.

1) This meeting is over rated, inconclusive and generally a lot of sound and fury over nothing. The read decision was made some months later and gradually at that. The Goebbles diary indicates that the decision to exterminate the Jews of the GG was made shortly after wannasee.

2) SM's opinion, which makes sense if you turn a blind eye to post war testimony.

I must empathize the differences between myself and Mills on the first point. Mills insists that Goebbles was only referring to the Lublin district in his entry, an obvious lie as Goebbles clearly mentioned the entire Jewish population of the GG and the Western Jews deported there as well.

In official discussion I tend to stick to the first option because of worst case scenario planning.

IMO this is all totally irrelevant because the documentation shows that the ball was rolling by that summer, one way or another, with or without this conference. The solid facts are firmly on our side here.


Hi Jeff,
As you will see, I have always kind of agree with your points.
But, as I don't have much time left to participate to this forum, I chose to dig it further.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Balsamo » Mon Jul 06, 2015 11:20 pm

PART 1

I am posting here what I wrote on rodoh at that time. Those were my opinions then, and little has change except for my mistakes.

my grain of salt in this debate...badly written on a small device, but here is the first draft:

I think that most of you, here, overestimate the Wannsee conference, for which we only have badly written minutes.

First to start with a little historical criticism, these 14 pages are only what they are: minutes, written by a biased secretary. There Is no way to determine who said what with precision, and don’t give any clue on how the debate evolved. To make long thing short, this document means nothing if not apprehended in its context. And what is expressed more clearly - like the willingness of Buhler to solve the Jewish problem in the GG - it is nothing new. Frank has been begging for that for a year.

That is not to say that it should not be considered as a turning point. Indeed, in some way, it marks the end of Goring implication, the end of all previous plan based on emigration. Neugierig rightly pointed out that there were previously no unified policies, but several initiatives (from Goering, or the foreign affairs, etc).
What is really new, is that from now on, the solution to the Jewish question will be officially in the hand of Himmler, and its deputee Heydrich.
In other words: What Heydrich is searching with this meeting is legitimacy. The civil administration is consulted, but it will be Himmler’s services that will take care of the Job, wherever the Jews are located. With the tacit agreement of the people present at the meeting, representative of the Reich government, the legitimacy is enacted.

What Heydrich wants to prevent is other conflicts like the one that opposed his service to von Stulppnagel, military administrator in France, that turned badly. (october 41)

Another obvious objective was to obtain a clear definition of what a Jew is. My opinion is that what transpires from the minutes is that Heydrich somewhat failed to expand this definition, the state secretaries still obtain a lot of "guarantees" regarding highly decorated Jews, essential workers, mishlingen. Maybe, Heydrich wanted to know to what point he could go in his mission especially regarding the German Jews.

The most bizarre things are the statistics provided, reaching 11 million (850.000 Jews in France or 5.000.000 in the ussr… :shock: ), and the plans regarding the Jews in foreign countries. I don’t personally think that it should not be taken too seriously. Could be just a way to affirm the SD and Himler’s authority in that matter wherever the Jews are. Like an affirmation of a Universal prerogative over the Jewish question. I think so because more than other things, this was never be implemented anyway, and even Himmler would not have been granted such an authority (that is to deal with Jews from foreign conuntries) without hitler's approval first.
I think Heydrich was just BS the State secretaries.
Even a fanatic like Heydrich would have realized that the prospect of Germany winning the war was quite thin, if not improbable. The Werhmacht was still trying to conceal the disaster in January 42. The failure of Barbarossa and Typhoon were the biggest wake-up call ever for the Nazis. Everything was to be rethought. From the War economy to the Jewish question, now that a possible victory by the Judeobolsheviks was not to be excluded.

Because of all that, my opnion is that this conference was just a mean to BS the legal government (for what it was), and to obtain the full power for Himmler regarding the final solution, which would no longer be handled the legal way

In this perspective, Been-there is right. The Minutes don’t say anything about the genocide to come. what will eventually follow was not those State secretaries business.
All that mattered was their acceptance of the new policy, their limitted support was needed, but they had to renounce their responsabilities or initiatives (quite the contrary to Goring's approach)
Especially because the new plan was already being implemented before this conference took place. So yes, these protocols are wrongly designated as the turning point, and even though there are no real consensus among historians, it is still presented as such to the public. It is a mistake! And that is why Revisionists are still focusing on them. Their arguments only make sense if one accepts that the Wansee conference is the turning point during which the genocide was decided, otherwise they are silly. And I guess that is what made Statistical Mechanic so upset. And he is right, as it is a step, that marks the end of the legal and governmental approach of the Jewish problem, but that is about it.
These minutes in some part look like a joke, my opinion is that it is because this conference was one. This was only meant to give some legal protection and legitimacy to the SS –himmler and heydrich - before the dirty work really begins.


As StatMec already reacted to this, it is not addressed to him. That was my opinion in October 2013 and I posted for honesty concerns. By then, it was one of my first posts after a long break. There are some obvious mistakes, like when I say that it does not say anything about the Genocide to come. Actually, I should have said, about the genocide as it will turn out to be.
Since then, I have changed my perspective a little, essentially with my hypothesis of the parallel Final Solution.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Balsamo » Mon Jul 06, 2015 11:51 pm

PART 2 (june-july 2015).

The fascinating thing with those minutes is that it is still a central point of the debate. And even if in today’s historiography it is no longer considered as a decisive decision, it still holds an important place among most historians. And as other delicate subjects, there are such a variety of considerations, interpretations that the case of the protocols of Wannsee is still “special”.

The importance that has been given to them, undeserved in my opinion, in the popular perception of the Holocaust, is as usual what Deniers are fighting. And as a matter of fact, the broad public still see the Wannsee conference as when the Final Solution, that is the extermination, through mass murder and gas chambers, of the European Jews has been decided. It is because of this erroneous interpretation that Deniers like this conference so much. But we’ll leave this aspect for them, if they want to play with it. This is not the subject of this thread.

As usual, more methodological approaches have nothing to do with a movie featuring Kenneth Branagh and Colin Firth. The reality is more complex, because nothing is clear, or to put it otherwise, the Historian’s global perspectives, intuitions, approach does affect his understanding and interpretation.

Whatever the look one has on this meeting, there is something a little thing that does not fit, which is perfectly expressed in the famous phrase of Jackel :
“ The most remarkable thing about the meeting at Wannsee is that we don’t know why it took place.”

Yes I know, this quote features in all articles about the meeting, but nothing can be truer, especially if we agree with what still seems to be the consensus, that is that at this meeting the final Solution has been fully exposed to the State Apparatus, that is if one agrees with the idea that after Wannsee, the real nature of the final solution was clear to everyone within the Nazi leadership.

For those who date the “final decision” before the meeting, it seems even more useless, as the purpose is reduced to signify that from now on, the various “Jewish desks” have to comply and to support a decision which has already been made. And as a matter of facts, the Germans have been killing Jews “en masse” for more than 6 months.

If everything was decided, then why organize such a meeting and not just an order to comply from above?

For those like Longerich who put the date of the decision after the conference, the meeting is seen as a an
“important stage in the decision-making process that dragged on from the autumn of 1941 to the spring of 1942, in the course of which the leadership of the 'Third Reich' expanded the massacre of the Jews in eastern and southern Europe into a systematic program for the destruction of all the European Jews.”

In this perspective, the Final Solution as described in the minutes has to be understood more literally as an expression of “destruction through labor”, and the fate of the unfit less assumed, while of course, the survivors of the natural selection would be killed. (this last point is the consensual one).

Each side would focus on different key elements contained in the minutes, and neglect others.

It is often argued that both positions accept the reference to murder. But it all depends on the definition one has as what a murder is. That is the distinction between what was announced and described, and what the reality will turn out to be a couple of months later.

One can accept that both approaches, as well as the minutes, clearly show a genocidal intentions, that is the extermination of the Jewish people in Europe.
The main distinction is, in my view, the method.
Gerlach’s interpretation seems to say that through euphemisms, the plan was to murder all European Jews was presented to the participants and that the Jews would be treated the same ways used in the east. And consequently, that all the participants were quite aware of the new decision – murder – taken in December 41 by Hitler.
But then, why the mention of “provided an order by the Fuhrer” is everything was decided? Why all those mentions to measures taken in order that no sexual reproduction would be possible? Why even the mention of how the survivors would have to be treated, as all had to be murdered somehow?

The big advantages of Longerich interpretation is that it deals with those points, which constitute the strength of his argument and the reasons why I supported him, and still does. His position about how the information were received and perceived by the State Secretaries is less clear. He makes the analogy of what was being presented to the participants with how the "murder through labor" was already applied in the East, basically that for everyone, all Jews would be treated as the eastern Jews were treated, before the decision to murder them directly comes.

Even if I was always closer to this interpretation, there was always a "little thing" bothering me.

Anyway, both approaches concentrate on the genocidal content of the Minutes.

Other readings exist and so are possible.
One of my favorite, which influenced my original perception, is the one of Donald Bloxham. He is one the first who does not primarily focus on the genocidal elements contained in the Minutes but on what those minutes reveal about the Power structure of the third Reich. To Him, the important point is Heydrich’s claim to authority on the Jewish question.
He notes:
“The majority of the people professionally concerned with Jewish policy were concerned with it from a territorial perspective and had a finger in the pie within the boundaries of their juridictions”.

It is indeed an important point, because as he says, “the Interior ministry was (only) concerned with the Reich territories”, as were most participants with the exception of Luther, who was a very special character in all the sense of the word, and therefore cannot be considered as a real common player in that murderous game.

The pertinence of debating the international dimension of the Jewish question and solution makes no real sense, and the absence of representatives from the Army which were controlling France and Belgium (almost half the Jews of western and southern European Jews in occupied Europe) clearly shows the limits of what was really at stake at this meeting.

And this is where the Minutes of the conference get tricky. It seems to have many dimensions: it starts with what I consider as “small talks” about Heydrich legitimacy (and important element but not a matter of debates, as his credentials are backed by the Reich Marshal), what was done before regarding the JudenPolitiek, what will be done now through the evacuation to the east, and that all Jews in Europe would be concerned. But as far as I know, the real debate was the last one, that is should the Nuremberg laws be extended or not.

Regarding the fate of the Jews, we have
- a first group – out of reach – of Jews from neutral or enemy countries: Ireland, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, etc. The only reason to mention them would be a prospect of a complete victory of Germany (Bloxham).
- The Allies: again, the effort would rely on the future relations with them, the development of the military and political situation would, of course, be essential. Nothing was granted at this level, as each result was or would be the result of negotiations. The later fate of Luther will make the optimism shown at Wannsee difficult to maintain.
- The Jews under direct German occupation: here too, some priority is established, although the pan-European project is stressed out, as the Reich, and the Protektorat were to be treated first. As said before, the fate of the Jews from France and Belgium, and by that time even Greece, should have required representatives from the Army. We are left with the Netherlands and of course the Greater Reich.

Considering those distinctions, it is not that obvious to determine to which group is dedicated the various discussions that follows, that is basically the most important, the extension of the Nuremberg Laws, and what to do with the Mischlingen. My perception is that those fundamental discussions do not concerned all the Jews covered above, but only the ones of the Greater Reich. And it is obvious, that regarding those crucial discussions, and contrary to what the Minutes seem to express, nothing had been achieved. Or at least it was the Minutes make believe (see part 3)

Of course, the minutes are misleading in some senses. Eichmann presents them as a series of resolutions almost consensual on everything but some details. Granted there were no consensus on how the Mischlingen were to be treated, but there were some consensus on the fact that they would have to be dealt with. Regarding the Jewish question, it is supposed to be obvious that the Jews were to be killed whether through murder or through death by labor.

Let’s forget about the Mischlingen for a minute, and go back to the Final Solution as it was proposed and described. How to integrate the many exceptions in a pure extermination format?

In others words, if the message to all participants of this meeting was the need to kill all the Jews, why those extensive concessions? Do those concessions only concern only the German Jews? Does it include the Jews from Ostmark and the protectorate as well? To sum up: what was the group of Jews under discussion here?
The Minutes say:
“It is not intended to evacuate Jews over 65 years old, but to send them to an old­age ghetto ­ Theresienstadt is being considered for this purpose.In addition to these age groups ­ of the approximately 280,000 Jews in Germany proper and Austria on 31 October 1941, approximately 30% are over 65 years old ­ severely wounded veterans and Jews with war decorations (Iron Cross I) will be accepted in the old­age ghettos.”


So we have 280.000 – 30% = 170.000 Jews from the Reich and Austria.
And even from that number, one had to withdraw the Jews working in the Armament industry, a couple of tens of thousands.
How many Jews are left?

According to the quote, it seems quite obvious that the measures proposed – if indeed promised to the European Jews – and discussed were only concerning those 170.000 or less. And of course, the 90.000 or so of Mischlinge first and second degree we have seen did not come to any conclusion.

Of course, we have the 11.000.000 mentioned, but most of them were already in Himmler’s hands (Eastern Jews: Baltic, Bielorussia, Ukraine, Russia, Poland), while the others, up to January 1942, were anyway not in the jurisdiction of most of the participants (with the exception of the Foreign office), France and Belgium were under Military Administration, responsible before Keitel), one could add the Netherlands which were a “to be annexed” territories under civil Nazi administration.

So if I follow my reasoning, the proposal of Final Solution was that was to be “debate” with the State Secretaries was at most concerning 210.000-300.000 people (depending if one included the Dutch Jews). If that is the case, and if Gerlach is right, why did one need a couple of month to deal with them, considering that at least more than twice that number had already been killed in the East? Why propose other solutions than those who were already adopted?

And even in a “murder through work” proposition (Longerich like), how many times would have been necessary to annihilate 110.000 or even 170.000 Jews (if one excludes the Netherland) based on the existing eastern standards? Why all those precautions in order not to let them reproduce themselves (separation of sex, sterilization, etc).
The argument that it would take month to organize the treatment of 120-170.000 Germans Jews seems quite weak if compared with the death rate in the Baltic and eastward.
None of the approaches we have seen give a definitive conclusion, however the side on turn the coin. Always this little something...

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Balsamo » Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:10 am

PART 3

There is another reading possible which is given to us by Florent Brayard, I would say THE specialist in France of the Holocaust and Nazism in general. The very strange thing is that he based his interpretations on documents that are cited by Gerlach and maybe others.

My feeling is that instead of trying to corroborate his interpretation of Wannsee with testimonies, he chose to check the “good faith” of the minutes with other documents, which will lead him to some astonishing conclusions.

Obviously Brayard does not trust Eichmann’s edited minutes very much, taking the example of how the debate about the Mischlinge was transcript.

Among the documents he relies on, is the 29th January 42 meeting that took place only 9 days after Wannsee and which topic was…the definition of the Jew in the sphere of the ministry for the East. Bernhard Losener was present and shared what he presented as the conclusion of the “State Secretaries meeting of the 20th of January.

NOTE: ALL THE QUOTES I GIVE HERE ARE IN FRENCH, SO I ASSUME THE MISTAKES OF TRANSLATION. FOR THIS REASON, I GIVE THE PRIMARY SOURCE GIVEN BY BRAYARD FOR THE IMPORTANT QUOTES.

I quote:
“The meeting…had the result that the first degree Mischlinge would not me assimilated to the Jews, but would be sterilized instead”.


(The minutes of this conference was partially published by W. BENZ, K. KWIET, J. MATTHAUS, “Einsatz im Reichskommissariat Ostland”, Documenten zum Völkermord im Baltikum und WeissRussland, 1941-1944, Berlin, 1988, pp 58-59.)

Well, this is not precisely how Eichmann/Heychman put it. According to them, there was just a suggestion. But another note by Erhardt Wetzel, representative for the Ministry for the East, confirms.
Again I quote:

“State secretaries meeting of 20.01: first degree Mischlinge: not worse than before. Question asked for discussion, general rejection, even from the the Reich Chancellery”

(G. ALY, S. HEIM, Vordenken der Vernichtiung, p 470) (Brayard, p 263)

This note seems to contradict Gerlach’s assumption that the question of the redefinition of the Nuremberg Laws had been approved by all the Reichs offices before the Wannsee meeting and that, during Wannsee, everyone but Stuckart agreed – according to the Minutes anyway.

The 6th of March 42, only 7 days after the meeting dedicated to the eastern Jews, the RSHA reunited another meeting with representatives of the same ministries, but of lower ranks, to promote Heydrich’s views vs. Stuckart’s.

This time everything was done to demolish the idea of mass sterilization. It was said that basically such measures were unfeasible, that it would require too much work and the mobilization of sanitary means that were just not available during war time. In addition, forced Sterilization would create much more political issues than it could cure.
But one note is very interesting. It is said that – quote:

“In case the Fuhrer would, for political reasons, choose general sterilizations as the most appropriate solution, then one would have to consider that the 1st degree Mischlinge would have to be gathered after having been sterilized in a specific town, just like the old Jews…”


Further in the discussion, it was also considered the possibility that
“the 1st degree Mischlinge (sterilized or not) would be gathered in their own Ghetto (Theresienstadt like) within or very close to the Reich.”


Brayard’s conclusions is that the opposition against the idea of an expansion of the Nuremberg Laws were not only strong, unanimous, but also direct, and that, at this stage, Heydrich just did not dare to pass through by force. A second attempt on a lower lever would be tried, but even if Sterilization was discredited, the core of the debate was not settled. And it seems obvious that Hitler had not taken any decisions about that.
And indeed, this debate will continue all through 1942 without any clear decision.

But regarding Wannsee and its interpretation, the biggest blow comes from Stuckart’s letter of the 16 of March 1942 (again only 10 days after this meeting).
Strangely enough, this letter is mentioned by Gerlach and without any change in his interpretation.
Brayard does quote the letter (page 266):

Again, my translation of the French quote:

“With the expulsion of half-Jews, we also abandon the half of German blood(…) I have always held for extremely dangerous, in a biological perspective, to provide our enemies with German Blood. This Blood is capable of giving birth, on the enemy side, to personalities who could put at the service of the enemy, and by consequence against the German blood, their high qualities inherited through this German blood.
As we know, their good intelligence as well as their good education, associated with their Germanic genetic inheritance, would turn those half-Jews, if put outside of the German people, into natural born Fuhrers, that is very dangerous enemies.”


(Stuckart’s letter is cited in Kurt PÄTZOLD, E. SCHWARTZ, “ Tagesordnung: Judenmord”, pp 121,-)

This is something!

Many questions suddenly arise:
"Was this argumentation said at the Wannsee Meeting?" would be the first. We are not even one month away from the last meeting (6th), according to the two sources above, things were kind of settled until the 6 of march meeting. This meeting initiated by the RSHA with lower civil servants, and its conclusions, would have prompted this reaction by Stuckart.

More fundamentally, does this kind of argument, asked Brayard (and I follow him on that), makes any sense if the real nature of the Final Solution was exposed to all participants on the 20th of January 1942?

It is obvious that this argument makes no sense at all if – to quote Gerlach – Heydrich had shared with him
“his plan for a final solution involving the mass murder of Jews from all the countries of Europe, including allied, neutral and hostile nations.”,

and of course, among them the German Jews being dealt with first.

I mean, even the “natural power of Germanic genes” would need some times to transform its bearer into a natural born Fuhrer!

The whole argument would not hold 5 seconds if the genocide – as it turned out to be – had been explained, through euphemisms, to Stuckart.

Because, let us be clear here, the danger for him is to introduce half German to the Jewish “rubbish”, half German who would have an inner power to take control of them, become their leaders, etc.
There would not be any danger if the Jews were to be killed within a year or two.
Such a fear, expressed by nothing less than the number two of the ministry of the Interior, would not even exist if a Final decision by Hitler had been made in December 1941 in front of 50 guests (again, according to Gerlach).

Quite the contrary, such an argument can only be understood if Heydrich’s presentation and describtion of the Final Solution to be implemented, as far as the German Jews were concerned, was referring to yet another variation form of territorial solution with – and that is important – a genocidal finality. That is a genocide planned to last at least one generation, that is far beyond their own live expectancy or at least, their times of responsibilities.

Those officials would certainly be involved into the deportation of the German Jews, and by extension of the European Jews, into their {!#%@} holes, many would die. As they would be separated by sex, they would have no mean to reproduce themselves, and yes, in fine, the surviving few would have to be disposed of…But by then, post of the participants would not have been in charge, and others would do the dirty job.
Basically, it sounds like a variation of the "General Plan Ost", extermination over one or two generations.

In this perspective, the testimonies given by the survivors among the participants of the Wannsee meeting make more sense.
On the other hands, it also contradicts the popular feeling that we were dealing with “good Nazis” versus “the incarnation of Evil”. Stuckart was not a good guy if one accepts the idea that his letter was sincere, as I do.

In any way, it leaves the question open whether or not Himmler and Heydrich had their own plans in mind before or after Wannsee. In other words, was Heydrich trying to promote a preconceived plan at the meeting, or was he truly waiting for an order to confirm?
Was the mass shooting of German Jews at Kaunas and Riga, among them highly decorated Jews and Mischlinge, a real mistake or a test? If a test, was it taken with or without Hitler knowledge?

As one can see, this fourth interpretation of Wannsee opens much more debates than it settles.

happy summer to all, ;)

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Jeff_36 » Tue Jul 07, 2015 2:40 am

My take: Heydrich and Himmler likely had extermination in mind as early as December. However it was not implemented until March-August. I am fully of the opinion that Heydrich many have proposed numerous options to the attendees. That being said, Kritzingers comments make clear that nothing decisive occurred. This meeting was a dead end so to speak, with little agreement. The only development is that Beuhler's request to Heydrich likely led to the ongoing extermination action against the Lublin Ghetto to be expended to the entire GG. This, IMO was done at some point in February and led to Goebbles' diary entry on March 27th. This action covered all western Jews deported to the Ghettos in the GG as well.

This escalates gradually Between March and May. By May, after Heydrich got PWNED the deportations seemed to be expanded to all of Europe. Perhaps this was a knee jerk reaction By Himmler after losing one of his best men, perhaps it was as a result of the course of the war. In August, Hans Frank encouraged an escalation of deportations.

For me March-July is crunch time. By the time TII was opened for business, it was on like Donkey Kong.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Balsamo » Tue Jul 07, 2015 5:13 pm

Jeff wrote:
My take: Heydrich and Himmler likely had extermination in mind as early as December. However it was not implemented until March-August.

this is one of the question. And as I said, all depends on how one considers the first mass executions of the German Jews, which took place in October-November 41. On the other hand, genocidal actions were already decided in August 41 when the EG started targeting Jews of all sex and ages. Chlemno was decided in October 41, as the construction of the first killing center of Belzec.

I am fully of the opinion that Heydrich many have proposed numerous options to the attendees.

The Minutes do not indicate any discussion about the Final Solution per se. This was not on the menu. That was the first part of the meeting was for: making clear that it was the RSHA that was in charge of the Final Solution, making clear that it was a European program - that is that Heydrich was responsible for all the Jews wherever they were, without territorial consideration. He then present the Final Solution I think using the exact words that are in the Minutes.
How those words were understood by the attendees is the issue. They can be no doubt that everyone did understand the extinction finality of the Final Solution as well as its European scope. What Stuckart's letter contest is that it was clear that the extinction was understood as a speedy mass murder process. Just like in the most recent territorial projects, extermination was to be achieved over the long term, by "natural death" mostly, as well as by the impossibility of reproduction, while only the survivors of this process will later be "treated accordingly" that is killed.

That being said, Kritzingers comments make clear that nothing decisive occurred.


About the main discussion which was about the Mischlinge and how to treat the first degree ones. And indeed, not only nothing was decided, but all Heydrich's propositions were rejected by all State Secretaries - contrary to what the Minutes imply.

The only development is that Beuhler's request to Heydrich likely led to the ongoing extermination action against the Lublin Ghetto to be expended to the entire GG.


In my opinion, the presence as well as the performance of Buhler was a trick, essentially to show the acceptance of the new ruler regarding the Final Solution. Himmler was already negotiating with the GG, and will finally settle all the disputes with him by march 42. He got the promise that his region would have priority, but that does not mean that the decision to kill half of those Polish Jews were clearly explained to the attendees in January 42.

This action covered all western Jews deported to the Ghettos in the GG as well.


I am not sure this was the case in March 42. By then only Chelmno and Belzec were operational, and both were initially thought for the Polish Jews.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:26 am

Thanks for laying this out. Sadly, my comments will be quite negative. Maybe even a tad exasperated by what I am reading . . . .

I.

Balsamo wrote:Here comes maybe the most commented part:

Under proper guidance, in the course of the final solution the Jews are to be allocated for appropriate labor in the East. Able­bodied Jews, separated according to sex, will be taken in large work columns to these areas for work on roads, in the course of which action doubtless a large portion will be eliminated by natural causes.
The possible final remnant will, since it will undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be treated accordingly
, because it is the product of natural selection and would, if released, act as the seed of a new Jewish revival (see the experience of history.)In the course of the practical execution of the final solution, Europe will be combed through from west to east.
Germany proper, including the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, will have to be handled first due to the housing problem and additional social and political necessities.
The evacuated Jews will first be sent, group by group, to so­called transit ghettos, from which they will be transported to the East.

Not the most commented part by me. As you know, the parts I've commented most on are 1) the announcement of the abandonment of the old policy ("emigration") in favor of a new approach ("evacuation"), 2) the European-wide scope (skipping the numbers making up 11 million Jews, as you do here, minimizes this important point), 3) coordination with various states across Europe, and 4) Bühler's suggestion about the G-G.

Balsamo wrote:SS­Obergruppenführer Heydrich went on to say that an important prerequisite for the evacuation as such is the exact definition of the persons involved.

Contrary to all the wittering about the only point here being Heydrich taking command on this (Heydrich advocating for particular line on the definition of Jew - and, under a complex test, forced sterilization for Mischlinge), Heydrich didn't get his way on this point, did he? Not at Wannsee, not as an outcome of the Eastern Ministry conference, not at the 2nd and 3rd Final Solution conferences . . . the point was still open at the war's end.

Balsamo wrote:Now here comes the hard stuff which in my view was the core of what was to be discussed.

What was discussed is different to what was to be discussed, if you catch my drift. Heydrich most likely wanted the assembled officials to sign on to all his points; the definition of who was Jewish occasioned, as we know, controversy - but the purpose of the Wannsee conference was not to focus on this one question. Your wording here is, in fact, creating a distorted impression. Better to summarize the goals of the conference, as you understand them, and then what transpired at the conference and in subsequent discussion. IMO, one could say that obtaining agreement on the scope of the Final Solution was a goal of the Wannsee conference - geographic, national, definitional, conceptual. The reason discussion was imbalanced, so to speak, in favor of the definitional question is that, unlike the geographic/national and conceptual points, what to do about the Mischlinge and the Jews in mixed marriages remained unsettled and thus required work. Thus, discussion of the Reich Chancellery viewpoint ensued. Why is this surprising or especially noteworthy, so much so as to trump, in your view, the very big things that were agreed?

To say what I just did, by the way, is as different to your formulation as night is to day.

Balsamo wrote:As a reminder, the Nuremberg Laws qualified as Jew anyone with 3 Jewish grand-parents or with 2 if the Jew was a religious Jew or was married to a Jew
The first degree was a Jew with 2 Jewish grand-parents, or if one of the parent was Jews (which is quite logical).
The second degree was the Jew with only one Jewish grand-parent, for example the son or daughter of a first degree Jew married to a German.
According to the 1939 census, those were no small affair. The number of first degree Mischlinge was 72.000, and 39.000 of the second degree. Among the Jews, as said in the protocols, 30% were to be exempted, that is over 90.000 people.

In Germany, for sure, but the Wannsee conference had a broader, er, scope. You are veering off into a kind of small corner of a big room here.

Nor was the matter of Mischlinge and mixed marriages settled at Wannsee - continuing efforts to resolve the issue satisfactorily being the reasons behind the Eastern Ministry conference of late January, the 2nd FS conference in March, and the 3rd FS in October.

The entire discussion of so-called exemptions, including sterilization (described at Wannsee as the price for Mischlinge being not being evacuated), took place in the context of general agreement on the overall ”evacuation" policy - that is, the concept and extent of the FS.

I don't usually quote Evans but here he explains it very clearly so what the hell?
The general topic of the conference was the 'final solution of the European Jewish question'. In the first part of the conference, Heydrich informed the high-ranking party and government officials present, that Hitler had approved of the 'evacuation of the Jews to the east' as a solution to the 'Jewish question'. Heydrich left no doubt about the murderous fate which awaited the Jews. . . . The meeting voiced no opposition to the plans outlined by Heydrich. Soon after the Wannsee conference, Heydrich expressed his satisfaction that the 'basic line in respect of the final solution of the Jewish question has been set and complete agreement exists on the part of the agencies which are participating in it.'20 [Heydrich note to Luther]
6. The same could not be said, however, for the special case of 'half-Jews' and Jews in 'mixed marriages' with people whom the regime defined as non-Jews or 'Aryans'. Even though their fate was discussed at great length in the second part of the Wannsee conference, no consensus was reached. . . . . It is absolutely vital to note that this conference, and the written exchanges by the participants in the aftermath of the conference, were only concerned with the issue of 'mixed marriages' and 'half-Jews'. The fate of the 'full Jews' was not raised, as it had already been agreed upon in principle . . .

This is the critical context you've ignored in your introductory remarks and will continue to ignore, spending a lot of energy on your little corner, in the rest of this thread.

II.

Jeff_36 wrote:IMO this meeting was to get the offices in line with the SD and Heydrich on this issue. A declaration of superiority if you will.

This begs the question, what was the policy that Heydrich was coordinating with the assembled officials?

Jeff_36 wrote:The statements of Kritzinger et all indicate that the conference itself discussed the measures in place but was inconclusive. I do not buy Buhler's statements at all as they contain numerous lies.

As I've said, the proper way to read the postwar statements of Kritzinger, Bühler, Eichmann, et al is 1) in context of the sources from the period and 2) with the legal and personal situations/rationalizing of these individuals in mind.

To say the conference was "inconclusive" is also question-begging. Did Heydrich achieve nothing? Or did he achieve something but not everything he set out to achieve? In terms of the conference’s goals, where did the meeting, in your opinion, fall short?

Jeff_36 wrote:1) This meeting is over rated, inconclusive and generally a lot of sound and fury over nothing. The read decision was made some months later and gradually at that. The Goebbles diary indicates that the decision to exterminate the Jews of the GG was made shortly after wannasee.

This position is astonishingly incorrect. The Wannsee conference was misunderstood decades ago as "the decision" point; to reject that pov - correctly - but to replace it with the claim that the conference was "a lot of sound and fury over nothing" is at best a wild over-correction. You would have to walk us through the conference goals, the conference itself, and then the conference follow-ups to have even a ghost of a chance of selling such an interpretation.

Jeff_36 wrote:2) SM's opinion, which makes sense if you turn a blind eye to post war testimony.

Rubbish. That is not my opinion or method. Now, I don't rely on selected testimonies out of context.

Jeff_36 wrote:In official discussion I tend to stick to the first option because of worst case scenario planning.

While the principle of parsimonious interpretation is a good one, you make this sound like a debating approach rather than a close reading of the sources.

Jeff_36 wrote:IMO this is all totally irrelevant because the documentation shows that the ball was rolling by that summer, one way or another, with or without this conference. The solid facts are firmly on our side here.

Surely not "irrelevant" to how implementation of the new policy was effected . . .

As to post-war testimony about Wannsee, bear this in mind:
Kempner: Were you in Wannsee? Did the Reich Main Security Office have a meeting there?

Leibbrandt: Yes, there was a conference, a lunch. Heydrich had invited people as far as I know.

Kempner: What was discussed there?

Leibbrandt: To my knowledge everything possible.

Kempner: For example?

Leibbrandt: The entire battle in the East was discussed (...).

Kempner: Who was there? Did it also have something to do with the Jews?

Leibbrandt: That probably also came up for discussion.

Kempner: Then Mr Leibbrandt took part in a decisive meeting about the Final Solution of the Jewish Question? I have the Protocol.

Leibbrandt: About the Final Solution of the Jewish Question?

Kempner: Yes. Read from the document (...) the second line. What is there?

Leibbrandt: My name ... It was a normal meeting without knowing exactly what was going on and then a Protocol was prepared.

Kempner: The plan was coordinated, what each Ministry had to do?

Leibbrandt: Impossible.

Kempner: Do you still get a cold shiver down your spine when you think about the session? Were you shocked or not?

Leibbrandt: You could say that.

Par for course. And, again, I do use testimonies, just like this one, to understand the whole problem of the escalation of Jewish policy, including the role of the Wannsee conference. In this case, I would ask why Leibbrandt felt he could lie at the outset of this exchange (he didn’t realize that Kempner had access to the very damaging protocol) and why at the end of this bit he admitted to being shocked (he was trapped and being shocked was at least a decent pose, a life-line held out to him by Kempner).

III.

Balsamo wrote:PART 1

I am posting here what I wrote on rodoh at that time. Those were my opinions then, and little has change except for my mistakes.

my grain of salt in this debate...badly written on a small device, but here is the first draft:

I think that most of you, here, overestimate the Wannsee conference, for which we only have badly written minutes.

First to start with a little historical criticism, these 14 pages are only what they are: minutes, written by a biased secretary. There Is no way to determine who said what with precision, and don’t give any clue on how the debate evolved. To make long thing short, this document means nothing if not apprehended in its context. And what is expressed more clearly - like the willingness of Buhler to solve the Jewish problem in the GG - it is nothing new. Frank has been begging for that for a year.

That is not to say that it should not be considered as a turning point. Indeed, in some way, it marks the end of Goring implication, the end of all previous plan based on emigration. Neugierig rightly pointed out that there were previously no unified policies, but several initiatives (from Goering, or the foreign affairs, etc).
What is really new, is that from now on, the solution to the Jewish question will be officially in the hand of Himmler, and its deputee Heydrich.
In other words: What Heydrich is searching with this meeting is legitimacy. The civil administration is consulted, but it will be Himmler’s services that will take care of the Job, wherever the Jews are located. With the tacit agreement of the people present at the meeting, representative of the Reich government, the legitimacy is enacted.

What Heydrich wants to prevent is other conflicts like the one that opposed his service to von Stulppnagel, military administrator in France, that turned badly. (october 41)

Another obvious objective was to obtain a clear definition of what a Jew is. My opinion is that what transpires from the minutes is that Heydrich somewhat failed to expand this definition, the state secretaries still obtain a lot of "guarantees" regarding highly decorated Jews, essential workers, mishlingen. Maybe, Heydrich wanted to know to what point he could go in his mission especially regarding the German Jews.

The most bizarre things are the statistics provided, reaching 11 million (850.000 Jews in France or 5.000.000 in the ussr… :shock: ), and the plans regarding the Jews in foreign countries. I don’t personally think that it should not be taken too seriously. Could be just a way to affirm the SD and Himler’s authority in that matter wherever the Jews are. Like an affirmation of a Universal prerogative over the Jewish question. I think so because more than other things, this was never be implemented anyway, and even Himmler would not have been granted such an authority (that is to deal with Jews from foreign conuntries) without hitler's approval first.
I think Heydrich was just BS the State secretaries.
Even a fanatic like Heydrich would have realized that the prospect of Germany winning the war was quite thin, if not improbable. The Werhmacht was still trying to conceal the disaster in January 42. The failure of Barbarossa and Typhoon were the biggest wake-up call ever for the Nazis. Everything was to be rethought. From the War economy to the Jewish question, now that a possible victory by the Judeobolsheviks was not to be excluded.

Because of all that, my opnion is that this conference was just a mean to BS the legal government (for what it was), and to obtain the full power for Himmler regarding the final solution, which would no longer be handled the legal way

In this perspective, Been-there is right. The Minutes don’t say anything about the genocide to come. what will eventually follow was not those State secretaries business.
All that mattered was their acceptance of the new policy, their limitted support was needed, but they had to renounce their responsabilities or initiatives (quite the contrary to Goring's approach)
Especially because the new plan was already being implemented before this conference took place. So yes, these protocols are wrongly designated as the turning point, and even though there are no real consensus among historians, it is still presented as such to the public. It is a mistake! And that is why Revisionists are still focusing on them. Their arguments only make sense if one accepts that the Wansee conference is the turning point during which the genocide was decided, otherwise they are silly. And I guess that is what made Statistical Mechanic so upset. And he is right, as it is a step, that marks the end of the legal and governmental approach of the Jewish problem, but that is about it.
These minutes in some part look like a joke, my opinion is that it is because this conference was one. This was only meant to give some legal protection and legitimacy to the SS –himmler and heydrich - before the dirty work really begins.


As StatMec already reacted to this, it is not addressed to him. That was my opinion in October 2013 and I posted for honesty concerns. By then, it was one of my first posts after a long break. There are some obvious mistakes, like when I say that it does not say anything about the Genocide to come. Actually, I should have said, about the genocide as it will turn out to be.
Since then, I have changed my perspective a little, essentially with my hypothesis of the parallel Final Solution.

Although not addressed to me, so that readers understand your post in context, below is my reply from 2 years ago:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Balsamo wrote:First to start with a little historical criticism, these 14 pages are only what they are: minutes, written by a biased secretary.
I don't think so. There was a transcript taken at the meeting, according to Eichmann, and then from that (no known copy) Eichmann made a draft, redacted by Heydrich. That's a bit different to your characterization.

Balsamo wrote:There Is no way to determine who said what with precision, and don’t give any clue on how the debate evolved.
The protocol indeed was Heydrich's "official" rendition. On the other hand, one doubts he'd be sending a gross misrepresentation to the attendees, etc.

Balsamo wrote:To make long thing short, this document means nothing if not apprehended in its context.
Agreed.

Balsamo wrote:And what is expressed more clearly - like the willingness of Buhler to solve the Jewish problem in the GG - it is nothing new. Frank has been begging for that for a year.
Well, it is the context that is new and the intervention Buehler made into a specific discussion, with a specific request. But, indeed, Belzec as a regional killing center, had been under construction since before Wannsee and, if you take Gerlach's scenario, since before the decision for the final solution as well. What was being discussed at Wannsee (not decided) was the policy turn and some of its implications (who was targeted, who was in charge) - the local and regional provisional efforts at eliminating the Jews now wrapped into a general policy.

Balsamo wrote:That is not to say that it should not be considered as a turning point. Indeed, in some way, it marks the end of Goring implication, the end of all previous plan based on emigration. Neugierig rightly pointed out that there were previously no unified policies, but several initiatives (from Goering, or the foreign affairs, etc).
What is really new, is that from now on, the solution to the Jewish question will be officially in the hand of Himmler, and its deputee Heydrich.
In other words: What Heydrich is searching with this meeting is legitimacy. The civil administration is consulted, but it will be Himmler’s services that will take care of the Job, wherever the Jews are located. With the tacit agreement of the people present at the meeting, representative of the Reich government, the legitimacy is enacted.

What Heydrich wants to prevent is other conflicts like the one that opposed his service to von Stulppnagel, military administrator in France, that turned badly. (october 41)
Kind of, but remember the conference wasn't so much announcing the SS/Heydrich commission - it had been made in July 1941 - but reinforcing it and reminding high-level officials of it. I would add, too that the kind of jurisdictional clash that was in the background was what had happened with Madagascar planning, where Rademacher drew up a plan as well as the SD. Wannsee told everyone not to step on the toes of the wrong people in this.

Balsamo wrote:Another obvious objective was to obtain a clear definition of what a Jew is. My opinion is that what transpires from the minutes is that Heydrich somewhat failed to expand this definition, the state secretaries still obtain a lot of "guarantees" regarding highly decorated Jews, essential workers, mishlingen. Maybe, Heydrich wanted to know to what point he could go in his mission especially regarding the German Jews.
The 6 March 1942 final solution conference continued the discussion, and again without clarity. The salient point here was the political problem of the ties of the Mischlinge and those in mixed marriages to "Aryans": that underlying problem couldn't be waved away with a magic wand, although policy against these people escalated gradually.

Balsamo wrote:The most bizarre things are the statistics provided, reaching 11 million (850.000 Jews in France or 5.000.000 in the ussr… :shock: ), and the plans regarding the Jews in foreign countries. I don’t personally think that it should not be taken too seriously. Could be just a way to affirm the SD and Himler’s authority in that matter wherever the Jews are. Like an affirmation of a Universal prerogative over the Jewish question. I think so because more than other things, this was never be implemented anyway, and even Himmler would not have been granted such an authority (that is to deal with Jews from foreign conuntries) without hitler's approval first.
The statistics, as noted upthread, were Eichmann's. They should be taken as the SD view of things, not as gospel.

Balsamo wrote:I think Heydrich was just BS the State secretaries.
Even a fanatic like Heydrich would have realized that the prospect of Germany winning the war was quite thin, if not improbable. The Werhmacht was still trying to conceal the disaster in January 42. The failure of Barbarossa and Typhoon were the biggest wake-up call ever for the Nazis. Everything was to be rethought. From the War economy to the Jewish question, now that a possible victory by the Judeobolsheviks was not to be excluded.
Hindsight is 20/20. I don't think that this is where things sat in January 1942. The Jewish question was in certain ways escalated by the protracted war (Herf, The Jewish Enemy).

Balsamo wrote:Because of all that, my opnion is that this conference was just a mean to BS the legal government (for what it was), and to obtain the full power for Himmler regarding the final solution, which would no longer be handled the legal way
The Nazis were in power and were not at odds with the government as a whole, despite rivalries and animosities and varying viewpoints. The "legal" justice administration collaborated with the SS in many ways, e.g., Thierak's agreement on annihilation through labor. The Foreign Office would help work with foreign governments to gain cooperation in deportations. The civilian administrations in occupied territory helped oversee ghettos. Etc. No, the hoary distinctions between legal (normative) and illegal (prerogative) state doesn't account for the evidence we've been left - and not even with respect to normative activity like marriage or reproductive policy. Right in the protocol we have the Interior Ministry thinking out how to kill off whole categories of Jews (Mischlinge and those married to Aryans) by means of sterilization.

Balsamo wrote:In this perspective, Been-there is right. The Minutes don’t say anything about the genocide to come. what will eventually follow was not those State secretaries business.
They refer to the genocide to come (one example: Buehler discussion, another example: fate of Jews on so-called road-building projects) and they refer to the early phases of the genocide without details. Recall too that Buehler lied to the IMT about this.

Balsamo wrote:All that mattered was their acceptance of the new policy, their limitted support was needed, but they had to renounce their responsabilities or initiatives (quite the contrary to Goring's approach)
Yet Stuckart and Buehler offered more than limited support, and Muller, Schongarth, Lange, and Hofmann were not state secretaries at all but part of the Himmler-Heydrich apparatus. I don't think that the conference was the watershed that was announced in earlier historiography, as you should be able to tell from this thread, but I also don't think it was a fairly bland, routine meeting without connection to the genocide or, as you say further on, a joke. It was a serious meeting of powerful men dealing with aspects of a policy that was central to Nazi aims - Eichmann later, as you know, described the stress and tension that Heydrich felt in preparing for and conducting this important and ultimately successful meeting.

Balsamo wrote:Especially because the new plan was already being implemented before this conference took place.
Which the protocol referred to, undermining the view that it doesn't refer to the genocide.

Balsamo wrote:So yes, these protocols are wrongly designated as the turning point, and even though there are no real consensus among historians, it is still presented as such to the public.
Agreed.

Balsamo wrote:It is a mistake! And that is why Revisionists are still focusing on them.
Judging from their comments in this thread, that isn't why revisionist focus on the protocol. Their viewpoint is that the notes might be a forgery but, forgery or not, the protocol does not describe a meeting that was part of the process of planning and coordinating the extermination of the Jews. Your statement would make sense if revisionists were trying to put the minutes into context and perspective. They aren't: they are using their "interpretation" to deny what is obvious from the evidence. The true revisionists are Longerich, Gerwarth, and even Roseman, Gerlach, and Browning, whose interpretations fit the meeting into the unfolding process of the final solution.

Balsamo wrote:Their arguments only make sense if one accepts that the Wansee conference is the turning point during which the genocide was decided, otherwise they are silly.
Not so. If it were that simple, they would accept Longerich's view. (I know of only one revisionist smart enough to try that - Michael Mills who used to post at Axis History Forum. His arguments are somewhat self-contradictory, filled with tangents designed to score points, and don't stand up. I myself was for a long time persuaded by Longerich's viewpoint - it is nuanced and takes into account a great deal of evidence. Looking more closely at the protocol and its "surround" led me to come down with Gerlach, Browning, and others.)

Balsamo wrote:And I guess that is what made Statistical Mechanic so upset. And he is right, as it is a step, that marks the end of the legal and governmental approach of the Jewish problem, but that is about it.
Well, I am not really upset :) and see my caveats above. I wouldn't argue that the conference marks the end of a legal, government approach to the final solution but that it coordinated the necessary parties and strapped them, in subordinate roles, to the SS leadership of the state's project.

Balsamo wrote:These minutes in some part look like a joke, my opinion is that is because this conference was one. This was only meant to give some legal protection and legitimacy to the SS –himmler and heydrich - before the dirty work really begins.
We can agree, I hope, to disagree on this, as noted above. Thanks for a thoughtful contribution with which I respectfully disagree in many places.

What I've posted across various threads on this topic at SSF mirrors this pov.

< part two to follow >
Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:26 am

(continued)

IV.

Balsamo wrote:The fascinating thing with those minutes is that it is still a central point of the debate. And even if in today’s historiography it is no longer considered as a decisive decision, it still holds an important place among most historians. And as other delicate subjects, there are such a variety of considerations, interpretations that the case of the protocols of Wannsee is still “special”.

The importance that has been given to them, undeserved in my opinion, in the popular perception of the Holocaust, is as usual what Deniers are fighting. And as a matter of fact, the broad public still see the Wannsee conference as when the Final Solution, that is the extermination, through mass murder and gas chambers, of the European Jews has been decided. It is because of this erroneous interpretation that Deniers like this conference so much. But we’ll leave this aspect for them, if they want to play with it. This is not the subject of this thread.

I agree - but Jeff's post above seems still wrapped up in the view that the conference was unimportant and accomplished nothing - and he specifically disagrees with the idea that the conference had any significance at all. Do you agree with Jeff on that?

The conference was significant not as a decision point or as an extraordinary event but 1) as an necessary implementation step and 2) also in that the protocol "left behind" a written record, which many Nazis on trial tripped over, and thus helps historical understanding.

Balsamo wrote:Whatever the look one has on this meeting, there is something a little thing that does not fit, which is perfectly expressed in the famous phrase of Jackel :
“ The most remarkable thing about the meeting at Wannsee is that we don’t know why it took place.”

Yes I know, this quote features in all articles about the meeting, but nothing can be truer, especially if we agree with what still seems to be the consensus, that is that at this meeting the final Solution has been fully exposed to the State Apparatus, that is if one agrees with the idea that after Wannsee, the real nature of the final solution was clear to everyone within the Nazi leadership.

Another snippet from 2 years ago:
In fact, both Gerlach and Roseman state explicitly how they are able to interpret the Wannsee meeting - and their explanation aligns with the method used by Balsamo and others in this thread to understand the significance and meaning of the meeting at the Wannsee villa.

For Roseman, the historian must "cast [his or her] net far wider than the meeting itself" and thus bring into play the full decision-making process as it worked among Hitler and his satraps, the nature of the Third Reich and Hitler's style of governing, and events in Jewish policy leading up to and following the meeting.

Gerlach explains that his new perspective on the meeting was gained by his placing the protocol in the context of "regional studies of the executions of Jews have shed new light on the protracted and complicated decision-making processes that went on within the German leadership. Other recent research has sought to interpret the course of events from the perspective of the central offices. Most significantly, however, documents connected with the Wannsee Conference itself have been uncovered, documents that provide us with important clues for interpreting previously known and published sources. What emerges is a new perspective on the course of events."

That is to say, the protocol is not a documentary about the meeting, nor a transcript, nor full notes, nor even minutes - but we have, despite Jaeckel's famous comment, ways of honing in on what the meeting was about.

Balsamo wrote:For those who date the “final decision” before the meeting, it seems even more useless, as the purpose is reduced to signify that from now on, the various “Jewish desks” have to comply and to support a decision which has already been made. And as a matter of facts, the Germans have been killing Jews “en masse” for more than 6 months.

I think the decision in favor of the new policy was, as recorded in the protocol, indeed made outside the framework of the Wannsee conference - and before it - but I would not narrow this point to saying that "from now on, the various 'Jewish desks' have to comply and to support a decision which has already been made." In fact, "various 'Jewish desks'" is a gross oversimplification, even wrapped in sneer quotes; you continue to trip up on this below. Also, your claim underplays the dynamic nature of the process (and indeed most implementation programs); and the nature of the open issues would require diplomatic, technical, conceptual, organizational, and other forms of problem solving and ingenuity. "Ebb and flow" as I put it back at RODOH.

Balsamo wrote:If everything was decided, then why organize such a meeting and not just an order to comply from above?

Not to be an {!#%@} but your even asking this question to my mind exposes your whole approach: because 1) real large-scale programs are not generally (ever?) decided once and for all, 2) implementation requires further problem solving as well as technical and organizational elaboration, 3) things don't always work as intended, reversals and problems occur and require further decisions, and 4) implementation itself, conceived as a project, is work. The Wannsee conference is not in that sense extraordinary despite its importance: it was part of the work of making a decision and approach real, turning policy into plans, coordinating various participants and departments, and effecting a project on a vast scale. Your entire approach skips logistics and implementation - and has since day one. Frankly. The National Socialists, unfortunately, were not so naive.

Balsamo wrote:For those like Longerich who put the date of the decision after the conference, the meeting is seen as a an
“important stage in the decision-making process that dragged on from the autumn of 1941 to the spring of 1942, in the course of which the leadership of the 'Third Reich' expanded the massacre of the Jews in eastern and southern Europe into a systematic program for the destruction of all the European Jews.”

In this perspective, the Final Solution as described in the minutes has to be understood more literally as an expression of “destruction through labor”, and the fate of the unfit less assumed, while of course, the survivors of the natural selection would be killed. (this last point is the consensual one).

I can't follow this sentence. To be clear, Longerich's position is that, "The representatives of the ministerial bureaucracy had made it plain that they had no concerns about the principle of deportation per se. This was indeed the crucial result of the meeting and the main reason why Heydrich had detailed minutes prepared and widely circulated." And - I do not agree with this - "The impending 'final solution' was envisaged as involving 11 million Jews. . . . Heydrich . . . clearly distinguished the programme of deportations that had already been set in motion from a far more comprehensive plan, whose execution he said was 'dependent on military developments' and could therefore only be fully realized after a German victory." Longerich then quotes the wording of the protocol on labor gangs, natural wastage, etc. "Heydrich thus developed the conception of a gigantic deportation programme which would only be fully realizable in the post-war period. Those Jews who were deported 'to the East' were to be worked to death through forced labour or, if they should survive these tribulations, they would be murdered." After German victory. You forgot the second part of Longerich's argument. Again, "Heydrich also made it clear what was understood by the phrase 'Final Solution': the Jews were to be annihilated by a combination of forced labour and mass murder." Holocaust, pp 308-309. Longerich's argument is that by spring 1942 the direct murder part of the plan was accelerated into the wartime period - not that mass murder wasn't intended by the time of the Wannsee conference. If that is what your sentence means, I agree.

(I have some differences with Longerich, as noted - but I think his position is very well thought out, defensible, and based closely on sources. I will also say that he directly answers my implementation/logistics argument saying that in the spring the murder installations were readied on a very short time line. I don’t see this the same way as Longerich, as I’ve explained before and will return to again, below, but I do agree with Longerich that 100s of 1000s of Jews were to be kept alive for slave labor through the war - again, the FS didn’t mean all Jews were to be killed everywhere at once - impractical even in the “best” circumstances - and it did rely on both annihilating labor and direct murder, as Longerich stresses.)

Balsamo wrote:Each side would focus on different key elements contained in the minutes, and neglect others.

I don't think that this is true. What part of the minutes did Roseman neglect in his book-length treatment, Gerlach in his long article, or Longerich in his articles and book coverage of the conference?

Balsamo wrote:It is often argued that both positions accept the reference to murder. But it all depends on the definition one has as what a murder is. That is the distinction between what was announced and described, and what the reality will turn out to be a couple of months later.

Longerich is quite specific (survivors of decimating labor were to be put to death), as are other scholars. I don't know of any definitional debate over the term "murder" here.

Balsamo wrote:One can accept that both approaches, as well as the minutes, clearly show a genocidal intentions, that is the extermination of the Jewish people in Europe.
The main distinction is, in my view, the method.
Gerlach’s interpretation seems to say that through euphemisms, the plan was to murder all European Jews was presented to the participants and that the Jews would be treated the same ways used in the east. And consequently, that all the participants were quite aware of the new decision – murder – taken in December 41 by Hitler.
But then, why the mention of “provided an order by the Fuhrer” is everything was decided?

Because everything isn't done at once. Nor everywhere at once. The protocol, for all its silences, is quite loud on coordinating with foreign governments and on the delicate topics of mixed marriages and Mischlinge - as was stated explicitly at the 2nd FS conference in March for crissakes. On privileged Jews and old-age Jews. Here, along with slave labor, is where I think Longerich has an especially strong point: the decision to include the Jews of Europe - with some question marks as noted - is not the same as a decision to have them all murdered at once and without regard to various pressures, situations, and obstacles.

Balsamo wrote:Why all those mentions to measures taken in order that no sexual reproduction would be possible? Why even the mention of how the survivors would have to be treated, as all had to be murdered somehow?

Again, 1) the issue of Mischlinge. That's where the issues of reproduction and sterilization come first and foremost. There's a tangential reference to dividing the labor gangs by sex - which makes perfect sense, the prevention of births among a doomed population (see comment below). 2) Because, in Longerich's view, there would obviously be survivors of annihilating labor by the time Germany won the war - or, in my view, annihilating labor wouldn't kill off all its victims in the short term. Managing these Jews to be kept alive for much of the war was an issue that the architects of the FS had to deal with. A general policy didn’t by implication answer all such issues.

As an aside, note this from the protocol: ”SS-Gruppenfuehrer Hofmann advocates the opinion that sterilization will have to be widely used, since the person of mixed blood who is given the choice whether he will be evacuated or sterilized would rather undergo sterilization." Here is another indication of what "evacuation" meant to the attendees - something over which sterilization would be preferable to victims. This reinforces the interpretation that the main question - a policy of evacuation for Jews - was settled but not the definition, at the margins, of who was to be dealt with as a Jew. This doesn’t need to be as complicated as you’re making it.

Balsamo wrote:The big advantages of Longerich interpretation is that it deals with those points, which constitute the strength of his argument and the reasons why I supported him, and still does. His position about how the information were received and perceived by the State Secretaries is less clear. He makes the analogy of what was being presented to the participants with how the "murder through labor" was already applied in the East, basically that for everyone, all Jews would be treated as the eastern Jews were treated, before the decision to murder them directly comes.

I have to say: You seem not to understand Longerich's argument - but maybe it is just unclear expression on your part. Longerich's argument is that the decision for extermination had been made by Wannsee - but implementation of the full program of mass murder was postponed until a "more favorable" time.

Balsamo wrote:One of my favorite, which influenced my original perception, is the one of Donald Bloxham. He is one the first who does not primarily focus on the genocidal elements contained in the Minutes but on what those minutes reveal about the Power structure of the third Reich. To Him, the important point is Heydrich’s claim to authority on the Jewish question.

I find Bloxham's argument as convincing (that is, not at all) as his treatment of the emigration stop: it is crafted to support an untenable thesis about the imperial cone, the scope of the FS, and its completion in the East

As to this: "the important point is Heydrich’s claim to authority on the Jewish question": I don't know of an important recent commentary on the conference that hasn't made this point. The problem is Bloxham's reductionist claim - that the conference did this and this alone. Bloxham seems to argue - I find his note sketchy - that for those Jews deported, murder of the unfit was already decided - and that the FS would be European wide but that this was impractical in wartime. But, again, let's be clear, what Bloxham writes is different to your gloss: Heydrich's claim was to "authority over a continent-wide deportation if it ever became a possibility. He was staking the earliest claim to a more genuinely 'European solution' than was currently the case. . . ." (p 227) The rest of Bloxham's parsing about Jews under German control is daft: the Germans intended to win the war, dominated Europe, and impose certain policies. Heydrich was simply saying that they all came under his authority - Bloxham's big wind up on this delivers nothing more than this truism.

Balsamo wrote:It is indeed an important point, because as he says, “the Interior ministry was (only) concerned with the Reich territories”, as were most participants with the exception of Luther, who was a very special character in all the sense of the word, and therefore cannot be considered as a real common player in that murderous game.

This loses me. At the Wannsee conference were Leibbrandt and Meyer (Eastern Ministry), Hofmann (RuSHA), Schöngarth (Sipo and SD in the G-G), and Bühler (G-G), not to mention Lange (RKO, EK-2).

You, and Bloxham, seem to have jumped the shark at about this point.

Balsamo wrote:The pertinence of debating the international dimension of the Jewish question and solution makes no real sense, and the absence of representatives from the Army which were controlling France and Belgium (almost half the Jews of western and southern European Jews in occupied Europe) clearly shows the limits of what was really at stake at this meeting.

Yet they did so. No one from the Propaganda Ministry was there (Gutterer unable to attend), either. Nor the military from the East. Nor from the transport ministry. Nor the Reichsbank, which would process stolen valuables. Nor Globocnik. Again, other officials would be brought in as the policy was turned into concrete plans. The right people to get the results down the road were (mostly) in attendance. Good enough.

Balsamo wrote:And this is where the Minutes of the conference get tricky. It seems to have many dimensions: it starts with what I consider as “small talks” about Heydrich legitimacy (and important element but not a matter of debates, as his credentials are backed by the Reich Marshal), what was done before regarding the JudenPolitiek, what will be done now through the evacuation to the east, and that all Jews in Europe would be concerned. But as far as I know, the real debate was the last one, that is should the Nuremberg laws be extended or not.

Again, so what? The bulk of the approach was agreed - so the focus, for a high level group, was not on implementation details, not on the approach already agreed, not on who was to lead - but on what wasn't resolved, at the policy level.

Balsamo wrote:Regarding the fate of the Jews, we have
- a first group – out of reach – of Jews from neutral or enemy countries: Ireland, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, etc. The only reason to mention them would be a prospect of a complete victory of Germany (Bloxham).
- The Allies: again, the effort would rely on the future relations with them, the development of the military and political situation would, of course, be essential. Nothing was granted at this level, as each result was or would be the result of negotiations. The later fate of Luther will make the optimism shown at Wannsee difficult to maintain.
- The Jews under direct German occupation: here too, some priority is established, although the pan-European project is stressed out, as the Reich, and the Protektorat were to be treated first. As said before, the fate of the Jews from France and Belgium, and by that time even Greece, should have required representatives from the Army. We are left with the Netherlands and of course the Greater Reich.

Again, you're seeing Wannsee as an all-or-nothing session, not as a necessary step along the road. So often in major efforts the early meetings are about "who should have been here"; in this case, I don't see any evidence that Heydrich felt he'd shortchanged himself with his attendees. He had what he needed to proceed. But the conference wasn't the final word. The military did not, after all, set Jewish policy, and had been called to heel already on this topic. In the east.

Balsamo wrote:Considering those distinctions, it is not that obvious to determine to which group is dedicated the various discussions that follows, that is basically the most important, the extension of the Nuremberg Laws, and what to do with the Mischlingen.

That is not “basically the most important topic”: it is a prickly, unresolved issue - that was never resolved. You're confusing text real estate with reality.

Balsamo wrote:My perception is that those fundamental discussions do not concerned all the Jews covered above, but only the ones of the Greater Reich. And it is obvious, that regarding those crucial discussions, and contrary to what the Minutes seem to express, nothing had been achieved. Or at least it was the Minutes make believe (see part 3)

A baffling assertion you make here. But we will deal with this in part 3 - only to state for now what was achieved: 1) Heydrich's pre-eminence, 2) communication of and “signing up” for the concept and extent of the new policy, 3) reassurance on some concerns (wartime labor, acceleration of FS in G-G), 4) clarification of diplomatic concerns, and 5) framing of open issues with some exploration of alternatives (mixed marriages, Mischlinge - sterilization).

Balsamo wrote:Eichmann presents them as a series of resolutions almost consensual on everything but some details.

Eichmann said that the purpose was a "tighter organization of the program.” (to Less) And “Not only did everybody willingly indicate agreement, but there was something else, entirely unexpected, when they outdid and outbid each other, as regards the demand for a Final Solution to the Jewish Question. The biggest surprise, as far as I remember, was not only Buehler, but above all Stuckart, who was always cautious and hesitant, but who suddenly behaved there with unaccustomed enthusiasm.“ (at his trial) These two statements are different to your characterization in important ways - it was not just some trivial details that needed resolution in the context of consensus. The details were significant, as we’ve said, but not - I hope we agree - threatening to the core agreement - and also the consensus was characterized by Eichmann as a bidding war in radicalism, not a desultory agreement with a fait accompli.

He also testified at trial about “consequences” of the Wannsee conference:
Dr. Servatius: . . . The next exhibit is T/730, document No. 1278. This is a circular from Eichmann, dated 31 January 1942, to all police regional headquarters, as well as to Vienna, to the Central Office for Emigration in Vienna, and, for information, to Security Police Inspectors in the Old Reich, as well as Vienna. The communication deals with the forthcoming measures for a final solution.
Witness, would you comment on how this communication came to be written.

Accused: This communication is the first consequence of the Wannsee Conference: It is basically designed to identify the numbers of Jews in the relevant areas of the Reich and the Protectorate, as a basis for drawing up the timetable. Orders were given for this document: It had to be issued as a basic decree. I have said that it was the first measure of the Wannsee Conference. Further consequences resulted from the conference . . . “

You’ve not commented on this exchange when I’ve called your attention to it in previous threads. I don’t think it is a trivial point.

Balsamo wrote:Regarding the Jewish question, it is supposed to be obvious that the Jews were to be killed whether through murder or through death by labor.

Not so. Longerich, Gerlach, Roseman and others show how this is so based on the protocol and developments before and after the conference. They don't take it as obvious or for granted.

Balsamo wrote:How to integrate the many exceptions in a pure extermination format?

In others words, if the message to all participants of this meeting was the need to kill all the Jews, why those extensive concessions?

What concessions are you talking about? Do you mean tactical delays?

The so-called concessions were really implementation tactics designed to deal with sensitive political and public opinion issues concerning some of the Jews “eligible” - or possibly “eligible” - for the FS.

Balsamo wrote:Do those concessions only concern only the German Jews? Does it include the Jews from Ostmark and the protectorate as well? To sum up: what was the group of Jews under discussion here?

Political considerations, as noted, concerning central European Jews and eventually Jews from western Europe - in the words of the Wannsee protocol “social and political necessities” - issues that required “cover”: the elderly (forced labor claims would be transparent lies for old folks), WWI medal holders and wounded - and eventually prominent Jews, Jews of potential exchange value.

Surely you know the size of Theresienstadt vs the population of the groups we’re talking about - and surely you realize the fate of Jews sent to Theresienstadt?

Also, how does your interpretation of Theresienstadt and supposed concessions account for this? Heydrich, 10 October 1941 (!), conference with Eichmann in attendance on deportations of Jews from the Protectorate (T/294): “In considering the use of the fortress-town Terezin as an assembly depot for Czech Jews, the meeting notes say, ‘After further deportations to the East from this temporary camp, in which the Jews will in any case be heavily decimated, the whole area will be built up and developed into an exemplary German settlement.’”

Or this, Eichmann presiding over a police chiefs’ meeting (T/734) during this same time period and telling the officials that “for the sake of placating the elderly people they should be told that they would be moved in the course of the summer or autumn to Theresienstadt, which was earmarked as the ghetto for the aged. This is being done as a face-saving device for the outside.”

Balsamo wrote:So we have 280.000 – 30% = 170.000 Jews from the Reich and Austria.
And even from that number, one had to withdraw the Jews working in the Armament industry, a couple of tens of thousands.
How many Jews are left?

LOL, you can’t just eliminate what Heydrich said about the European reach of the FS and declare that the focus of the meeting was on the Reich only. Come on.

I am lost here, Balsamo: what are you trying to argue?

And the armaments “exception” within the Reich was solved readily enough in the Fabrik-Aktion.

Again, I have to say you show not even the most basic understanding of how policies are implemented over time and space in the real world.

Nor has any scholar whose work I've read claimed that the decisions about the FS made at the turn of 1941/1942 called for the immediate and total murder of all the Jews in Germany’s control. At once. Done and over. This is the cheapest sort of strawman you’re beating up on.

Balsamo wrote:According to the quote, it seems quite obvious that the measures proposed – if indeed promised to the European Jews – and discussed were only concerning those 170.000 or less.

Regarding Theresienstadt and Mischlinge (see Himmler's rebuff of summer 1942 to the Ostland discussion of this), yes. But not for the sweep of the whole program.

Balsamo wrote:And of course, the 90.000 or so of Mischlinge first and second degree we have seen did not come to any conclusion.

Right but . . . you can only make such a silly argument as you seem now trying to make by chopping out the numerical accounting by country presented in the protocol, the clear statement made by Heydrich about his mandate (which Goebbels echoed in his diary btw), and the discussion part of the protocol. Not to mention the “practical experience” accumulated by January 1942 as well as what was to follow in spring and summer 1942.

If the focus of the meeting was Reich Jews, why did Bühler raise starting the FS in the G-G?

Maybe I’m not following you . . . that pesky noise-to-signal ration thingy . . . ?

Balsamo wrote:Of course, we have the 11.000.000 mentioned, but most of them were already in Himmler’s hands (Eastern Jews: Baltic, Bielorussia, Ukraine, Russia, Poland)

So what? The protocol says that Heydrich was communicating an approach for 11 million Jews across Europe - regardless of borders - and your unique reading declares 10 million plus of these people not to be under discussion. Quite a bit of sleight of hand on your part.

Balsamo wrote:while the others, up to January 1942, were anyway not in the jurisdiction of most of the participants (with the exception of the Foreign office), France and Belgium were under Military Administration, responsible before Keitel), one could add the Netherlands which were a “to be annexed” territories under civil Nazi administration.

So what? Since the conference was to ensure coordination and cooperation with the FS, and the Foreign Office was part of this effort, and since the police and occupation teams in various countries could function and follow the approach, your point is meaningless. You’ve basically said that the Jews in the various allied and unoccupied countries needn’t be considered because they were to be reached in a way that you claim to be unimportant. This is a tail-chasing argument trying to prove itself based on its own premises.

There's nothing in the protocol to support the kinds of tergiversations you're now treating us to on the consequences for the intended fate of the Jews based on forms of occupation or other governance of European countries. Not a word.

Balsamo wrote:So if I follow my reasoning, the proposal of Final Solution was that was to be “debate” with the State Secretaries was at most concerning 210.000-300.000 people (depending if one included the Dutch Jews). If that is the case, and if Gerlach is right, why did one need a couple of month to deal with them, considering that at least more than twice that number had already been killed in the East? Why propose other solutions than those who were already adopted?

What other solutions are you talking about? Other solutions to the Jewish question were not discussed as far as we know - what was discussed was the meaning, scope, and implementation of the FS.

You’ve just invented a position - a supposed focus on Reich Jews - wholly at odds with the protocol, contrary to supporting documents, and out of sync with the full range of conference follow-up actions.

To take some examples, the emigration stop order was in effect throughout the west, and seized upon by authorities. Yet you ignore this. In the conference itself, Bühler suggested not “combing from West to East” but accelerating the FS in the G-G. Why do you exclude that too? At the end of January, an Eastern Ministry meeting was held to tackle the question who was a Jew in the East (Himmler would rudely dismiss these exercises that summer) - why exclude this? Not to mention the deportation planning of late spring for the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. Nor diplomatic pressures for deporting Jews to Auschwitz and Majdanek, e.g., Slovakia in March. On what grounds do you “get” to blow by statements in the protocol like “In occupied and unoccupied France, the registration of Jews for evacuation will in all probability proceed without great difficulty” and “The Foreign Office sees no great difficulties for southeast and western Europe”? And so on.

The only way to sustain whatever it is you’re trying to advocate is by ignoring 1) what we know about reality and 2) documents and evidence that are central to the fact base for the Holocaust.

I cannot follow you down this road. It leads off a very steep cliff. Plonk!

Balsamo wrote:And even in a “murder through work” proposition (Longerich like) . . .

Again, I’ve used Longerich's actual phrasing, to show his pov, and you are not representing his argument accurately.

Balsamo wrote:how many times would have been necessary to annihilate 110.000 or even 170.000 Jews (if one excludes the Netherland) based on the existing eastern standards? Why all those precautions in order not to let them reproduce themselves (separation of sex, sterilization, etc).

Hunh? Do you think that pregnancy would enhance the labor capability of pregnant women? Did the Germans have any interest in bringing into the world, and supporting, children of slave laborers slated for elimination?

Why on god’s green earth would an effort targeting Reich Jews - this was where been-there and Trollo started too, btw - feature in one of its important communications to participants this framing? “Approximately 11 million Jews will be involved in the final solution of the European Jewish question” And “The handling of the problem in the individual countries will meet with difficulties due to the attitude and outlook of the people there . . .” Again, you can’t just subtract 10 million plus Jews because it suits your argument.

Balsamo wrote:The argument that it would take month to organize the treatment of 120-170.000 Germans Jews seems quite weak

Please, please do not distort people’s arguments. The FS involved Jews in the east, in central Europe, in southern Europe, and in the west. I’ve given you the numerical breakdown - which rubbished your maths.

Balsamo wrote:if compared with the death rate in the Baltic and eastward.

The comparison is not valid. In the Baltics etc, to commit mass murder, the Germans didn't need to transport Jews to far-away camps, with fixed murder installations; nor were there the same political issues and repercussions in the East as in the west.

Trains meant to take Jews from the Greater Reich and from western Europe to the East were rolling in spring and summer 1942. Total targeted population: around 800,000. Larger than the Hungarian action. Not to mention the numbers of Polish Jews that would have to be “processed” through the same killing installations. Leaving aside Jews in allied countries. So, indeed, personnel had to be directed, political issues had to be addressed, transport organized, sorting and selection processes developed, reception processes put in place, trials completed, and murder/disposal installations put into operation.

That gets to my argument, not some silly maths you've concocted, and which is not found in any of the documents, about 120-170,000 German Jews.

Balsamo wrote:None of the approaches we have seen give a definitive conclusion, however the side on turn the coin. Always this little something

I have to say that I’d meant to take a break and am only posting about Wannsee at this point on account of how completely screwed up this thread is. I am actually shocked by the arguments made.

IV.

And it gets worse . . .

Balsamo wrote:There is another reading possible which is given to us by Florent Brayard, I would say THE specialist in France of the Holocaust and Nazism in general. The very strange thing is that he based his interpretations on documents that are cited by Gerlach and maybe others.

Nothing strange in that at all.

Balsamo wrote:My feeling is that instead of trying to corroborate his interpretation of Wannsee with testimonies, he chose to check the “good faith” of the minutes with other documents, which will lead him to some astonishing conclusions.

Methodologically, that is the proper course.

Balsamo wrote:Obviously Brayard does not trust Eichmann’s edited minutes very much, taking the example of how the debate about the Mischlinge was transcript.

No one "trusts" the notes (they are NOT minutes) as having fidelity to what happened during the conference. The notes reflected also the view of Heydrich and Müller, who IIRC helped edit them, about what they wanted to communicate, in 30 copies, about this meeting that Jeff and you seem to think not so important.

Balsamo wrote:Among the documents he relies on, is the 29th January 42 meeting that took place only 9 days after Wannsee and which topic was…the definition of the Jew in the sphere of the ministry for the East. Bernhard Losener was present and shared what he presented as the conclusion of the “State Secretaries meeting of the 20th of January.

This is the semi-famous Eastern Ministry meeting, mentioned above. I haven't seen NG-5035 (the relevant Nuremberg document, covered in Majer's book), only glosses on it.

Balsamo wrote:Brayard’s conclusions is that the opposition against the idea of an expansion of the Nuremberg Laws were not only strong, unanimous, but also direct, and that, at this stage, Heydrich just did not dare to pass through by force. A second attempt on a lower lever would be tried, but even if Sterilization was discredited, the core of the debate was not settled. And it seems obvious that Hitler had not taken any decisions about that.

I don't see anything new here. And, as I've already said, the purported Heydrich coronation parade at Wannsee seems to have stumbled on this issue.

Balsamo wrote:And indeed, this debate will continue all through 1942 without any clear decision.

I have no idea where you're headed with this. What you say is true - you could have written 1945 - but I don't know what the fact has to do with any argument you're trying to make. I have to say that throughout this thread the noise-to-signal ratio is staggering and makes deciphering the argument you’re advancing quite difficult.

Balsamo wrote:But regarding Wannsee and its interpretation, the biggest blow comes from Stuckart’s letter of the 16 of March 1942 (again only 10 days after this meeting).
Strangely enough, this letter is mentioned by Gerlach and without any change in his interpretation.
Brayard does quote the letter (page 266):

Again, my translation of the French quote:

“With the expulsion of half-Jews, we also abandon the half of German blood(…) I have always held for extremely dangerous, in a biological perspective, to provide our enemies with German Blood. This Blood is capable of giving birth, on the enemy side, to personalities who could put at the service of the enemy, and by consequence against the German blood, their high qualities inherited through this German blood.
As we know, their good intelligence as well as their good education, associated with their Germanic genetic inheritance, would turn those half-Jews, if put outside of the German people, into natural born Fuhrers, that is very dangerous enemies.”


(Stuckart’s letter is cited in Kurt PÄTZOLD, E. SCHWARTZ, “ Tagesordnung: Judenmord”, pp 121 . . . )

This formulation (German blood), in abbreviated manner, not mentioning natural born Führers, was used during the March FS conference as well. Hilberg discusses Stuckart's 16 March letter.

Balsamo wrote:This is something!

Not much. Just more dancing of angels on pinheads regarding the Mischlinge - the officials just can't square this particular circle. Also, we are getting a bit of classic bureaucratic argumentation.

Balsamo wrote:Many questions suddenly arise:
"Was this argumentation said at the Wannsee Meeting?" would be the first.

Who knows? There isn't a transcript, just the protocol. As noted, the "German blood" issue was discussed at the 6 March conference.

Balsamo wrote:We are not even one month away from the last meeting (6th), according to the two sources above, things were kind of settled until the 6 of march meeting.

Dubious. Hilberg, citing the 16 March letter (p 439), wrote of the 6 March conference, "In short, the issue was no nearer to a solution now than before." So Hilberg and Gerlach have considered this letter and taken it into account - and interpret it very differently to Brayard and you.

Balsamo wrote:More fundamentally, does this kind of argument, asked Brayard (and I follow him on that), makes any sense if the real nature of the Final Solution was exposed to all participants on the 20th of January 1942?

It seems that Brayard has been sleeping in the back of the class or throwing spitballs. Of course the letter makes sense in the light of communication of the FS to attendees at Wannsee. The "settled" part was the "big" part, the core part, the fate of the great bulk of those whom everyone agreed to be Jews; the not-yet-settled part was the marginal case (Mischlinge, mixed marriages).

At the 6 March meeting, to underscore this interpretation, the Party Chancellery representative said that the "view had been expressed, in the highest quarter, in connection with the discussion of half-Jew questions in the Army, that it was necessary to divide the half-Jews into Jews and Germans, and that it was in no way tenable to keep the half-Jews permanently alive as a small race. No account would be taken of this demand if all half-Jews were to be sterilised and allowed to stay on Reich territory." Thus, we are here focused on the question of those not yet made eligible for the FS - those whom the Germans might or might not still "keep . . . alive as a small race.” Brayard seems to have followed Irving down the Schlegelberger rabbit's hole.

Balsamo wrote:It is obvious that this argument makes no sense at all if – to quote Gerlach – Heydrich had shared with him
“his plan for a final solution involving the mass murder of Jews from all the countries of Europe, including allied, neutral and hostile nations.”,

and of course, among them the German Jews being dealt with first.

Your conclusion doesn't follow your premise because at the 6 March meeting and in the 16 March note those people being discussed were the cases not yet decided. Not the great majority, whose situation was clear. Nor can you use the 16 March note to make some argument - at least any argument different from Longerich’s - about Jews being kept alive in the east. Indeed, the German Jews - but not those in mixed marriages or Mischlinge - were again by March being deported for slave labor and eventual extermination in the east.

Has Brayard not even consulted the deportation records? I mean, apart from his loss of focus - conflating discussion of exceptional cases with the main thrust of the conference - did he truly try to place all this in context, as he argued was necessary?

Balsamo wrote:The whole argument would not hold 5 seconds if the genocide – as it turned out to be – had been explained, through euphemisms, to Stuckart.

You've not supported this claim with any success. First, according to Eichmann, the FS was explained to Stuckart not in euphemisms at all, but in rather coarse terms. We can believe him or not. But Stuckart was at the meeting, not a mere (cleansed) protocol recipient. Second, again, Stuckart's note assumed the fate of those whose Jewish identity was clear to all - but continued the debate about those whose Jewish identity was problematic - and not necessarily on "racial" or "theoretical" grounds but on account of their ties to good Aryans (from the 6 March notes: "an actual solution of the Mischling problem, which is not exclusively a racial-biological one"). Third, the timetable for extermination (we don't know Himmler's thinking at this point - but - see below - labor for some time was to be a part of things, witness, Himmler’s January "Jews into KLs" discussions, for example, and the selection process).

Balsamo wrote:Because, let us be clear here, the danger for him is to introduce half German to the Jewish “rubbish”, half German who would have an inner power to take control of them, become their leaders, etc.
There would not be any danger if the Jews were to be killed within a year or two.

Whoever said that? You are forgetting the persistent labor question and how the RFSS planned to use Jews. You are forgetting the war (Stuckart's note is explicit about this), the fear of resistance, Jewish and otherwise, during the war - the fear that if these dangerous half-Jews were among the masses in the East, they'd prevent (put your policy here) from being carried out smoothly. You are forgetting how bureaucratic argument is cast. And, if you accept Longerich's view, you are forgetting his two stages.

Balsamo wrote:Such a fear, expressed by nothing less than the number two of the ministry of the Interior, would not even exist if a Final decision by Hitler had been made in December 1941 in front of 50 guests (again, according to Gerlach).

Of course it would. You've not explained why it wouldn't. 100s of 1000s of Jews were to be used for forced labor under all understandings of the FS I'm aware of (except six/gas/plan). As explained above, from Longerich to Roseman, 100s of 1000s of Jews were to be used during the war as slave labor. In concert with direct killing - of the unfit and finally of those resistant enough to survive decimating labor.

Balsamo wrote:Quite the contrary, such an argument can only be understood if Heydrich’s presentation and describtion of the Final Solution to be implemented, as far as the German Jews were concerned, was referring to yet another variation form of territorial solution with – and that is important – a genocidal finality. That is a genocide planned to last at least one generation, that is far beyond their own live expectancy or at least, their times of responsibilities.

I won't repeat myself. Longerich has dealt with your "breakthrough" as I've noted - and I've told you how I see it.

Balsamo wrote:Those officials would certainly be involved into the deportation of the German Jews, and by extension of the European Jews, into their {!#%@} holes, many would die. As they would be separated by sex, they would have no mean to reproduce themselves, and yes, in fine, the surviving few would have to be disposed of…But by then, post of the participants would not have been in charge, and others would do the dirty job.
Basically, it sounds like a variation of the "General Plan Ost", extermination over one or two generations.

For Mischlinge. As discussed 6 March. But not for the bulk of the Jews “eligible” for the FS.

Balsamo wrote:In this perspective, the testimonies given by the survivors among the participants of the Wannsee meeting make more sense.

Re-read the excerpt from Leibbrandt's testimony above.

The witnesses make perfect sense in the light of a better interpretation of Wannsee: like Bühler, Leibbrandt lied about the conference until he was shocked actually by finding out that the protocol was in the Allies' hands. Because the protocol was so clearly damning.

Balsamo wrote:On the other hands, it also contradicts the popular feeling that we were dealing with “good Nazis” versus “the incarnation of Evil”. Stuckart was not a good guy if one accepts the idea that his letter was sincere, as I do.

What? Have you read Roseman's book, for example?

Balsamo wrote:As one can see, this fourth interpretation of Wannsee opens much more debates than it settles.

I think not. It seems like old hat and not based on much more than a rather far-fetched, almost silly reading of a single letter - after ignoring much evidence surrounding the conference.

V.

Jeff_36 wrote:My take: Heydrich and Himmler likely had extermination in mind as early as December. However it was not implemented until March-August.

Well, a huge program like this starting within 6-7 weeks of the “communicaton” conference is kind of like a huge program like this starting right away. (see more below)

Jeff_36 wrote:I am fully of the opinion that Heydrich many have proposed numerous options to the attendees.

On what basis? Which options did he present? How do you know?

Jeff_36 wrote:That being said, Kritzingers comments make clear that nothing decisive occurred.

Xcalibur has already dealt with this. Besides your formulation is loaded: the conference wasn't meant to be "decisive"; it was meant to progress what had been already generally agreed.

Jeff_36 wrote:This meeting was a dead end so to speak, with little agreement.

The areas of agreement were vast, and "consequences" and follow-up steps occurred at once, as well as further discussion of the areas of disagreement, affecting only a small number of possible "participants" in the FS (see above).

Jeff_36 wrote:The only development is that Beuhler's request to Heydrich likely led to the ongoing extermination action against the Lublin Ghetto to be expended to the entire GG.

False. Eichmann, e.g., initiated preparatory actions for further deportations of Jews from the Greater Reich and then western Europe.

Are you familiar with the Luther memorandum and the steps he outlined taking in that note? It is IMO an important document which reviews a number of other developments following the Wannsee conference and in line with its general approach.

Jeff_36 wrote:Perhaps this was a knee jerk reaction By Himmler after losing one of his best men, perhaps it was as a result of the course of the war. In August, Hans Frank encouraged an escalation of deportations.

The FS was not a knee-jerk reaction - anything but. It was a radicalizing process that was by the turn of 1941/1942 given tighter organization, to borrow a phrase from Eichmann.

Jeff_36 wrote:This action covered all western Jews deported to the Ghettos in the GG as well.

Not exactly. Slovakian Jews were being deported to Auschwitz and Majdanek as of March, and French Jews to Auschwitz - but not yet for selection. Jews from the Greater Reich were being deported as described here during the spring and starting May some cycled to Sobibór, in small numbers - by late summer IIRC such distinctions in Izbica, Piaski, Kraśniczyn, and the other Lublin district holding ghettos had broken down. Also, trains were running direct from the Greater Reich to Sobibór by spring 1942.

According to Longerich, looking at the entire east, at least 43 transports went to the East from mid-March to mid-June. Destinations were as follows: ghettos in Lublin district (as above) and Warsaw. Jews were deposited in various ghettos, those fit for work taken largely to Majdanek. By May-June transports were being sent directly to Sobibor camp, a new "reception possibility" that had been "worked on" during the spring.

In May too, transports from Reich territory began going to Minsk again, including to Maly Trostinets where gas vans offered a "reception possibility." At Minsk, Reich Jews “deposited” in the “Hamburg ghetto” earlier were not being sent to Maly Trostinets until July 1942; however, fresh transports of Reich Jews started being brought to the Minsk area as early as May 1942 - those transports almost all went directly to the execution site at Maly Trostinets. The sole transport in this series not going to Maly Trostinets was from the old-age ghetto Theresienstadt - the 1000 Jews on this transport were taken to Baranovichi where they were shot.

Further, in May Rumkowski, to meet quotas imposed by the Germans, sent central European Jews from Lodz to Chelmno. Planning for the big summer deportations from Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, as noted, occurred during May and June, with the critical conference occurring at the RSHA in Berlin in June.

Jeff_36 wrote:For me March-July is crunch time. By the time TII was opened for business, it was on like Donkey Kong.

I don't know what "crunch time"is, or "Donkey Kong" (wasn't the latter a primitive video game?). Here the issue is what significance to attribute to the Wannsee conference and how to explain the "decision" in favor of (escalation to) the Final Solution as we know it.

VI.

Balsamo wrote:this is one of the question. And as I said, all depends on how one considers the first mass executions of the German Jews, which took place in October-November 41.

I'd like to introduce you guys to Herr Hitler, who had some say in these matters.

Balsamo wrote:The Minutes do not indicate any discussion about the Final Solution per se. This was not on the menu.

Really? Except one or two "asides"?

"The following persons took part in the discussion about the final solution of the Jewish question which took place in Berlin, am Grossen Wannsee No. 56/58 on 20 January 1942"
- “At the beginning of the discussion Chief of the Security Police and of the SD, SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Heydrich, reported that the Reich Marshal had appointed him delegate for the preparations for the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe and pointed out that this discussion had been called for the purpose of clarifying fundamental questions"
- “the wish of the Reich Marshal to have a draft sent to him concerning organizational, factual and material interests in relation to the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe makes necessary an initial common action of all central offices immediately concerned with these questions in order to bring their general activities into line"
- “The Reichsfuhrer-SS and the Chief of the German Police (Chief of the Security Police and the SD) was entrusted with the official central handling of the final solution of the Jewish question without regard to geographic borders"
- “practical experience is already being collected which is of the greatest importance in relation to the future final solution of the Jewish question"
- “Approximately 11 million Jews will be involved in the final solution of the European Jewish question"
"Under proper guidance, in the course of the final solution the Jews are to be allocated for appropriate labor in the East"
- “the handling of the final solution in those European countries occupied and influenced by us"
"as regards the final solution of the Jewish question"
- “In the course of the practical execution of the final solution, Europe will be combed through from west to east"
- “In the course of the final solution"
- “Dr. Boehler stated that the General Government would welcome it if the final solution of this problem could be begun in the General Government"
- “certain preparatory activities for the final solution should be carried out immediately"
- “The meeting was closed with the request of the Chief of the Security Police and the SD to the participants that they afford him appropriate support during the carrying out of the tasks involved in the solution"

Again, I don't understand what you are driving at. The sole topic of the conference was . . . er, the final solution.

Balsamo wrote:That was the first part of the meeting was for: making clear that it was the RSHA that was in charge of the Final Solution, making clear that it was a European program - that is that Heydrich was responsible for all the Jews wherever they were, without territorial consideration. He then present the Final Solution I think using the exact words that are in the Minutes.
How those words were understood by the attendees is the issue. They can be no doubt that everyone did understand the extinction finality of the Final Solution as well as its European scope. What Stuckart's letter contest is that it was clear that the extinction was understood as a speedy mass murder process.

Strawman (speedy murder process). Bühler’s suggestion during discussion at Wannsee already foreshadows the need to stagger things, potential bottlenecks, logistical issues needing to be managed.

Balsamo wrote:Just like in the most recent territorial projects, extermination was to be achieved over the long term, by "natural death" mostly, as well as by the impossibility of reproduction, while only the survivors of this process will later be "treated accordingly" that is killed.

You have no proof for this assertion. Goebbels, most likely expressing common understanding among leading officials, in March wrote something very different: "On the whole it can be said that about 60 per cent of them will have to be liquidated whereas only about 40 per cent can be used for forced labor."

Balsamo wrote:About the main discussion which was about the Mischlinge and how to treat the first degree ones. And indeed, not only nothing was decided, but all Heydrich's propositions were rejected by all State Secretaries - contrary to what the Minutes imply.

I cannot insist enough on how this undermines Bloxham's position - and the position you took in RODOH - that the conference was nothing more than a set-piece for Heydrich to announce the Himmler/Heydrich principality.

Balsamo wrote:In my opinion, the presence as well as the performance of Buhler was a trick, essentially to show the acceptance of the new ruler regarding the Final Solution. Himmler was already negotiating with the GG, and will finally settle all the disputes with him by march 42. He got the promise that his region would have priority, but that does not mean that the decision to kill half of those Polish Jews were clearly explained to the attendees in January 42.

A trick? Himmler certainly backed Frank down, I agree, but a trick? If - and I think that there is not much of a leap here at all - Bühler made his suggestion during the discussion, as indicated in the notes, then you are probably wrong. The evidence we have, in other words, suggests that you're wrong:
State Secretary Dr. Boehler stated that the General Government would welcome it if the final solution of this problem could be begun in the General Government, since on the one hand transportation does not play such a large role here nor would problems of labor supply hamper this action. Jews must be removed from the territory of the General Government as quickly as possible, since it is especially here that the Jew as an epidemic carrier represents an extreme danger and on the other hand he is causing permanent chaos in the economic structure of the country through continued black market dealings. Moreover, of the approximately 2 1/2 million Jews concerned, the majority is unfit for work.

State Secretary Dr. Buehler stated further that the solution to the Jewish question in the General Government is the responsibility of the Chief of the Security Police and the SD and that his efforts would be supported by the officials of the General Government. He had only one request, to solve the Jewish question in this area as quickly as possible.

In conclusion the different types of possible solutions were discussed, during which discussion both Gauleiter Dr. Meyer and State Secretary Dr. Boehler took the position that certain preparatory activities for the final solution should be carried out immediately in the territories in question, in which process alarming the populace must be avoided.

A nice trick, ok, removing Jews from the G-G without there being a need for transportation . . .

Balsamo wrote:I am not sure this was the case in March 42. By then only Chelmno and Belzec were operational, and both were initially thought for the Polish Jews.

Agreed, but more complex than you're stating it. See above, comment in reply to Jeff's post.

I know I sound like an ass, but this is a very disappointing thread, sorry to say, the posts on Brayard IMO truly confusing matters.
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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Jeff_36 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:14 am

I am not sure this was the case in March 42. By then only Chelmno and Belzec were operational, and both were initially thought for the Polish Jews."


I base this on the Goebbles diary entry in March. He clearly indicates that the nonworking GG Jews were dammed, as were the nonworking Jews from western Europe deported to the GG. The actions may not have affected them for many months, but by the time he was writing his diary entry it was crystal clear.

I view the Jews of Lublin as having already been dammed as early as October of 1941. Globocnik's operation was already in place to carry that measure out. Himmler and Heydrich IMO merely used the already in place mechanics to deal with the expanded target.

What provoked the expansion is a mystery to me, however it is possible that Beuhler's bitching about GG Jews prompted Heydrich to make the call. I view the expansion of the Globus operation as the beginning of the real, active, effective FS. From there it was akin to a snowball rolling down a hill, gathering size and momentum with time.

SM's views on logistical considerations are well founded. However, those concerns can be alivated when one considers that an extermination structure was in place in the GG at the time. It was just a matter of sending more personnel and expanding things, thus making what would have been a tough task to accomplish in a short period of time a fairly simple matter, akin to tweaking an already existing, near finished product that was conveniently available.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:36 am

Jeff_36 wrote:. . . an extermination structure was in place in the GG at the time. . . .

I think it is more like this: Bełzec, created to gas Jews in Lublin district, wasn't finished until mid-March. Sobibór, incorporating lessons from Bełzec and also in Lublin district, was completed by the end of April and received its initial transports the first week of May. Treblinka, of course, wasn't opened until late July. The gas chambers at Majdanek weren't finished until fall 1942. And at Birkenau Bunker I (little red house) didn't go into operation “probably mid or late May” and was initially focused on Upper Silesian Jews; Bunker II (little white house) wasn't converted until June. All this took time to put in place, retrofit and rework, build anew, prove out, etc. Not centuries but some time. The G-G was not prepared to receive masses of Jews from all over Europe and murder them in spring 1942 - thus some of what appear to be blips in the record, as the decisions regarding Jews from across Europe were made before all the preparations were complete (this is even stated in the Wannsee protocol, obliquely) and the movement of Jews to the East also began before preparations were complete.
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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Balsamo » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:01 am

I knew you would not resist, Statmec. ;)

See you tomorrow

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Jeff_36 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:08 am

I'm pretty confused here and don't know what to think tbh. Part of me sees this as a mystery better left unsolved.

For me, by late March things become a whole lot less complicated.

Perhaps Wannasee was really about extermination, a GP Ost type of extermination via starvation and poor conditions to be carried out as the war was won. However, the course of the war, and the realization that they were in it for the long haul, prompted them to make last minute adjustments with existing apparatuses to achieve the same result in a shorter time-frame with much more direct methods. As the snowball rolled downhill, the original intentions disappeared as the current killings done by Globus and Hoess became the real, true FS.

Josef Oberhauser, driver and bodyguard to Globocnik, testified that the killing operation was only expanded to a Europe wide capacity in May of 1942, with the allocation of additional personnel.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Jeff_36 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:15 am

The G-G was not prepared to receive masses of Jews from all over Europe and murder them in spring 1942


That's not what I was saying. I merely stated that by March, the Globocnik operation was now responsible for all nonworking Jews in the GG. Goebbels' diary indicates that the general understanding was that the nonworking Jews deported ti the empty ghettos from Europe were to share the same fate at a later date, as they did.

All it would have taken was a phone call from Himmler to Globus informing him that his perview was expanded. He would have then broke the news to Wirth. Simultaneously, new personnel would have been sent by Brack.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby nickterry » Wed Jul 08, 2015 9:57 am

Perhaps the intrepid reinterpreters could pay attention to the changing logistic situation in 1941/2, as well as the issue of capacity - confinement capacity in camps and ghettos, employment capacity and killing capacity.

Doing so reveals how unrealistic Himmler and Heydrich were well into the spring of 1942, since none of the plans hatched from September 1941 onwards sufficed to accommodate (either literally or in the 'gesondert untergebracht' sense used in 1943 re: Fabrikaktion gassing victims) any of the groups targeted for deportation. All of them required personnel reinforcements and infrastructure, and would also require cooperation from other authorities, some of whom might say 'no' if the idea was daft enough.

For example, at the turn of 1941/2, Himmler evidently struck a deal with von Reichenau, commander of Army Group South, for the SS to support the construction of DG IV, the main military thoroughfare through the Ukraine. SSPF Galizien was already beginning to do so (but had not done that much by 1.1.42) on the Galician section of DG IV, utilising men transferred from now-dissolved labour camps for Jews that had been in the Lublin district; they established Janowska, and they moved in men who had been with Dirlewanger's unit. The labourers in Galicia were Jews.

Shortly before Wannsee, HSSPF Ukraine enquired of the district commissars about ghettos capable of accommodating Reich Jews. At Wannsee, on 20 January 1942, Heydrich famously spoke of 'roadbuilding to the east'.

The SS indeed supported DG IV operations, by sending out a security battalion of policemen to oversee camps - in March 1942.

By this time, a number of things had happened. Firstly, von Reichenau died of a heart attack, being replaced by the far less Nazified von Bock. Secondly, Fritz Todt was killed in a plane crash, being replaced by Albert Speer. Speer had himself been sent out in January 1942 to Ukraine to help overcome the crisis of the railways. The transport crisis was barely abated by April 1942 on the central and southern sectors, and not really overcome until May 1942. Despite the improvement of the rail net, the majority of forces dispatched for the summer 1942 offensive were moved at least in part by road - along the infamous Durchgangsstrassen - rather than rail. Division after division was unloaded at the Polish-Soviet border and sent marching off across Belorussia and Ukraine.

There's surprisingly wide agreement that as of 20.1.42, Heydrich was at least semi-serious about DG IV as a destination for at least some European Jews. I myself made the point in the HC white paper. But five days after Wannsee, Himmler separately ordered 150,000 Reich Jews to be sent to KZs - which never happened. We know from Himmler's appointments diary that this was okayed with Heydrich.

On 25 January 1942, as can be seen on the Wannsee museum website, Heydrich fired off photocopies of his 31.7.41 authorisation from Goering to a wide range of players inside the SS apparatus, including all four Einsatzgruppen
http://www.ghwk.de/wannsee/dokumente-zu ... erenz.html

What we don't know precisely - or maybe there are clues in Eichmann's testimonies/other sources - is when the Wannsee Protocol was finalised as a text. Most likely, in between 20 and 25 January 1942. But it was already out-dated as of 26 January 1942 as a guide to implementation, if we are meant to take Himmler's KZ order seriously.

I'd have to check against a number of obvious sources, but the first time we have any record of the WP being used as a document was in the run-up to the 2nd Endloesung meeting of 6.3.42, when Heydrich sent out an invite to Luther and attached a copy of the WP - on March 2 1942. Given the larger number of invites sent out for Wannsee on its first or second scheduling, one can infer that Heydrich or IV B 4 sent out copies of the WP at this time. This interpretation is reinforced by Goebbels' famous diary entry of 7 March 1942, which strongly suggests that Goebbels was reading either the WP or a text very similar to the WP. Since the Propaganda Ministry took part in the 6.3.42 conference, represented at a more junior level, it stands to reason that the relevant official would receive the WP or something close to it either before the meeting or at the meeting. The timing of the diary entry the day after the meeting suggests that the officials (two from ProMi attended the 6.3.42 meeting) then passed the document up the ProMi chain of command for the attention of the minister.

The WP was also circulated within the SS, obviously, so we find Oswald Pohl alluding in September 1942 to the fact that able bodied Jews would have to break off their migration to the east to work in armaments, echoing the language of the WP. Most likely, Pohl received the document much, much earlier, so this allusion is of less use in telling us anything about when the WP began to be circulated.

What we observe here is a pattern with Heydrich utilising technically out-dated documents - the Goering authorisation of 31.7.1941, circulated widely on 25 January 1942, the WP, circulated for sure in March 1942 - for bureaucratic purposes. This doesn't help us work out what the plans actually were at any one time. But it does highlight how evolutionary the process was.

Back to 20.1.42: the 'practical experiences' referred to in the WP were represented at the meeting by KdS Lettland, Stubaf. Lange, whose command was busy overseeing the literal accommodation of Reich Jews in the Riga ghetto along with the Salapsils camp in the weeks before and after the conference. Other destinations that had been discussed and planned to the same depth as Riga in the autumn and winter of 1941 were to be found in HSSPF Russland-Mitte's sector, specifically in Mogilev, with ideas about Smolensk, Bobruisk and Borisov also mentioned, as well as Minsk. We also know that crematoria were ordered for Mogilev, which eventually ended up installed at Birkenau.

However: von dem Bach-Zelewski fell ill at precisely this time, in January 1942, while the transport crisis on the central sector had already shut down a planned 18 trains of Reich Jews in November 1941 (some were slated to go to Bobruisk and Borisov, and never did). The whole premise of identifying sites like Bobruisk, Borisov and Mogilev was that they were slated to become part of the expanded GK Weissruthenien, but they never did due to the Soviet counteroffensive of December 1941 in the battle of Moscow. The SS/Police infrastructure was beginning to be put into place with the dispatch of Schutzpolizei commmands to these towns, and the recruitment of Schutzmannschaften in those same areas under SS control. But the infrastructure never grew large enough to have overseen even a Riga ghetto's worth of deportees.

The SS/Police infrastructure on the southern sector, by contrast, barely existed, so big was the area. As mentioned above, the DG IV security force was only mobilised in March 1942.

There are two final indicators that what I have called an 'Ostloesung' - meaning a more comprehensive deportation to the occupied eastern territories than was actually carried out in 1942, with the deportations to Maly Trostenets, Riga and Raasiku - was contemplated through to the spring of 1942 for Reich Jews, but no others. The first is a note from IV B 4 in mid-April 1942 complaining that wildcat expulsions by the Romanians of Jews from Transnistria to RK Ukraine would interfere with planned deportations of Reich Jews to the same region.

Within a matter of weeks, Reich Jews began being deported directly to Sobibor, were freed for deportation from Lodz to Chelmno, and began arriving in Maly Trostenets to be killed.

The second is a Dannecker note from 15 June 1942 regarding the 11 June 1942 RSHA conference of Judenreferenten, stating explicitly that military operations prohibited a deportation of Jews from Germany to the 'eastern Operationsgebiet' in the east, therefore ('daher') West European Jews or Jews from the Southeast (Romania) would be sent to Auschwitz, which is virtually a non-sequitur, but never mind.

This document suggests that Dannecker only partially understood what was explained to him, or was being misled, since the RSHA had already negotiated a nice little weekly deportation schedule primarily from Vienna to Minsk which unfolded through to autumn 1942, and was able to schedule a number of trains for Riga and Raasiku for the late summer/early autumn.

Moreover, as negotiations with the Romanians unfolded, the decision was taken to deport Romanian Jews to Lublin and more specifically to Belzec, rather than Auschwitz. Chop-change, chop-change.

What these sources do indicate is the immense difficulty of coordinating transportation capacity with destinations, whether deported Jews were to be killed, put to work or simply accommodated. In early 1942, the RSHA was undoubtedly told to eff off by the Wehrmacht and Reichsbahn regarding the possibility of increased transports of Jews to the eastern territories. Eichmann acknowledged that the wave of transports sent out from the Reich in March 1942 could only go to Lublin, and had to travel on 'empty Russian trains', i.e. the trains carrying Ostarbeiter to the Reich could be used to take Jews from the Reich - as far as Lublin.

Negotiating the resumption of transports to Minsk, a quota dating back to autumn 1941, was tricky enough, and such transports did not begin in a substantive way until May 1942. This is also the point at which a key official of Haupteisenbahndirektion Mitte said that the transport crisis on the central sector had eased sufficiently for non-priority transports to become possible. Similar thoughts were clearly dashed for the southern sector some time between mid-April and mid-June 1942. As the southern sector was the prime axis for the summer 1942 offensive, and was also intended to serve as the granary for the Nazi empire, then eventually it had to sink in to even the dimmest security policeman that this was not a place to soak up excess deportees from the Reich.

Clearly, the RSHA were slow learners - let us not make the mistake of thinking this was an institution overwhelmingly blessed with common sense straight out of the gate, when the evidence indicates that this was an organisation infected with utopianism and an excess of blue-skies thinking (see for starters, the Generalplan Ost). The RSHA also evidently changed its mind rather a lot - witness the reference in June 1942 to the idea of deporting Romanian Jews to Auschwitz, which became by September 1942 an unfulfilled plan to deport them to Belzec. (Either movement could have overwhelmed these camps.)

I do not therefore believe that Heydrich and the RSHA had a crystal clear idea of how the FS would unfold as of the Wannsee conference. They did however have broader-brush ideas, and enunciated clear principles that were held to despite all the chopping and changing regarding destinations, until spring 1944, namely the murder of unfit Jews and the employment of able bodied Jews in forced labour. Unfit Jews, as was seen with the Lublin deportations carried out within weeks of the Wannsee conference, but also as was seen with the 'Aktion Duenamuende' killings in February 1942 in Riga, need not initially have been slated for immediate killing, but could potentially be stashed somewhere before being killed, once killing capacity (shooters or gassing facilities) was in place

As of 20.1.42, after all, Chelmno was operational but clearly incapable of serving a supra-regional function; Belzec was under construction but currently incapable of receiving any transports due to the supply crisis that began on the Polish-Soviet border; Sobibor had been scouted, while most gas vans were yet to arrive in the east (Einsatzgruppe B received new vans in February 1942, some of which were eventually used at Maly Trostenets in July 1942), and there is no convincing evidence that Auschwitz was already incorporated into any FS planning (Hoess's infamous account referring in all probability to a 1942 meeting that was backdated to before Hoess's camp started doing especially naughty things in 1941).

Conversely, the number of potential ghetto or camp sites under consideration for literal accommodation was even more feeble. A vague idea about Pskov floated in December 1941 apropos the Ostland first wave came to nothing; Salaspils was to be built up to 25,000 (IIRC), virtually every other possible destination was pie in the sky. The actual destinations in spring 1942 - transit ghettos in the Lublin district - had to be improvised in especially rapid order. By this time, Heydrich's men were undercutting the possibility of a more expansive Ostloesung by liquidating ghetto after ghetto in the east, in towns that lacked the capacity to receive large numbers; the larger cities had mostly lost their ghettos in autumn 1941 (Mogilev, Bobruisk etc) or never possessed them in the first place (Kiev).

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:24 am

Thanks for this, it is quite clarifying. To connect a few dots:

nickterry wrote:There's surprisingly wide agreement that as of 20.1.42, Heydrich was at least semi-serious about DG IV as a destination for at least some European Jews. I myself made the point in the HC white paper. But five days after Wannsee, Himmler separately ordered 150,000 Reich Jews to be sent to KZs - which never happened. We know from Himmler's appointments diary that this was okayed with Heydrich.

This gives detail on the "Jews to KLs" in my posts and which I discussed with Mills in this thread, including how this all worked through in the months following.

nickterry wrote:What we observe here is a pattern with Heydrich utilising technically out-dated documents - the Goering authorisation of 31.7.1941, circulated widely on 25 January 1942, the WP, circulated for sure in March 1942 - for bureaucratic purposes. This doesn't help us work out what the plans actually were at any one time. But it does highlight how evolutionary the process was.

I want to underscore two of Nick Terry's points here to reinforce comments made earlier: 1) the bureaucratic process - reading Balsamo's posts I was struck at how little attention Brayard seems to pay to such matters (this is partly what I meant using the word "reality") and 2) the developmental, evolutionary nature of the process - Wannsee being a point along the way and not a black/white, definitive set-piece for once and all. These two points are non-trivial.

Nick Terry's specifics on practical experience and the course of the war exceed any comments I could have made about "ebb and flow" by many orders of magnitude but are thoroughly in keeping with the framework so lacking in the early posts in this thread.

nickterry wrote:Within a matter of weeks, Reich Jews began being deported directly to Sobibor, were freed for deportation from Lodz to Chelmno, and began arriving in Maly Trostenets to be killed.

Again, stated better than I can, with Nick Terry's important addition of context, but we've discussed these developments several times - and they are very important.

nickterry wrote:The second is a Dannecker note from 15 June 1942 regarding the 11 June 1942 RSHA conference of Judenreferenten, stating explicitly that military operations prohibited a deportation of Jews from Germany to the 'eastern Operationsgebiet' in the east, therefore ('daher') West European Jews or Jews from the Southeast (Romania) would be sent to Auschwitz, which is virtually a non-sequitur, but never mind.

This document suggests that Dannecker only partially understood what was explained to him, or was being misled, since the RSHA had already negotiated a nice little weekly deportation schedule primarily from Vienna to Minsk which unfolded through to autumn 1942, and was able to schedule a number of trains for Riga and Raasiku for the late summer/early autumn.

Again, connecting dots, Nick Terry is adding here detail and specific logistical and communication ugliness of which I wasn't aware. What I wanted to point out that Nick Terry is referencing a document about a meeting that I've referred to several times - the 11 June 1942 RSHA planning session for deportations from Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. The Dannecker note is that same note about which Michael Mills lied (here's one of my posts on that) before fleeing the Hotel Majestic thread at AHF. Again, I've tried to understand, fruitlessly, how any of the argumentation in this or other "reinterpretation" threads plays out in France, including concerning this pivotal meeting and other logistical planning.

nickterry wrote:Chop-change, chop-change.

Another very succinct answer to why meetings like Wannsee and subsequent discussions had to occur at all: a decision, as we've stressed, or an approach or a policy is not an implementation in the real world.

nickterry wrote:What these sources do indicate is the immense difficulty of coordinating transportation capacity with destinations, whether deported Jews were to be killed, put to work or simply accommodated. In early 1942, the RSHA was undoubtedly told to eff off by the Wehrmacht and Reichsbahn regarding the possibility of increased transports of Jews to the eastern territories. Eichmann acknowledged that the wave of transports sent out from the Reich in March 1942 could only go to Lublin, and had to travel on 'empty Russian trains', i.e. the trains carrying Ostarbeiter to the Reich could be used to take Jews from the Reich - as far as Lublin.

Connecting back to my plea for a discussion of Balsamo's interpretation applied to France, we will see similar hesitations and hurrying in France.

nickterry wrote:Clearly, the RSHA were slow learners - let us not make the mistake of thinking this was an institution overwhelmingly blessed with common sense straight out of the gate, when the evidence indicates that this was an organisation infected with utopianism and an excess of blue-skies thinking (see for starters, the Generalplan Ost). The RSHA also evidently changed its mind rather a lot - witness the reference in June 1942 to the idea of deporting Romanian Jews to Auschwitz, which became by September 1942 an unfulfilled plan to deport them to Belzec. (Either movement could have overwhelmed these camps.)

Nick Terry's opening comment and this comment make me think also of the black comedy Gotz Aly wrote about the pre-Barbarossa demographic engineering in Poland. Again, the RSHA in this does not differ from many bureaucracies albeit suffering from more grandiosity than is typically seen. Thus the size of some of the {!#%@} but also, as Nick Terry implies, the complexity of the documentary record - with shifts, changes, etc. The road to Auschwitz was anything but straight, right? (Although I know I am coming across as an ass in these posts, I have to say that part of my frustration with this discussion is "us" vs the complexity of all this, the number of rather far-flung interconnected sources and documents needed - and "our" chutzpah to reinterpret without having been in the archives. Nick Terry's post here shows the importance of having such research chops and gives reasons for why I am leery of a DIY effort on all this..)

nickterry wrote:I do not therefore believe that Heydrich and the RSHA had a crystal clear idea of how the FS would unfold as of the Wannsee conference. They did however have broader-brush ideas, and enunciated clear principles that were held to despite all the chopping and changing regarding destinations, until spring 1944, namely the murder of unfit Jews and the employment of able bodied Jews in forced labour. Unfit Jews, as was seen with the Lublin deportations carried out within weeks of the Wannsee conference, but also as was seen with the 'Aktion Duenamuende' killings in February 1942 in Riga, need not initially have been slated for immediate killing, but could potentially be stashed somewhere before being killed, once killing capacity (shooters or gassing facilities) was in place

This, to my mind, is the essence of the discussion. Again, Nick Terry said it better than I - but we are making the same point. Wannsee was a step in a process which had to be followed through because, back to another post, quoting Hilberg, we are dealing here not with a set or master plan but with an approach. In fact, to underscore Nick Terry's point, I take what the protocol has Heydrich saying to be pretty much what Nick Terry has explained (where the protocol gives Heydrich's purpose as "the preparations for the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe and pointed out that this discussion had been called for the purpose of clarifying fundamental questions") - we have a new approach (evacuation), now we are working at a policy level, addressing key issues and questions, with a beginning look at implementation, to progress this approach. This comment of Bühler and Gauleiter Meyer, during the discussion, that "certain preparatory activities for the final solution should be carried out immediately in the territories in question" underscores this framing.

nickterry wrote:As of 20.1.42, after all, Chelmno was operational but clearly incapable of serving a supra-regional function; Belzec was under construction but currently incapable of receiving any transports due to the supply crisis that began on the Polish-Soviet border; Sobibor had been scouted, while most gas vans were yet to arrive in the east (Einsatzgruppe B received new vans in February 1942, some of which were eventually used at Maly Trostenets in July 1942), and there is no convincing evidence that Auschwitz was already incorporated into any FS planning (Hoess's infamous account referring in all probability to a 1942 meeting that was backdated to before Hoess's camp started doing especially naughty things in 1941).

Conversely, the number of potential ghetto or camp sites under consideration for literal accommodation was even more feeble. A vague idea about Pskov floated in December 1941 apropos the Ostland first wave came to nothing; Salaspils was to be built up to 25,000 (IIRC), virtually every other possible destination was pie in the sky. The actual destinations in spring 1942 - transit ghettos in the Lublin district - had to be improvised in especially rapid order. By this time, Heydrich's men were undercutting the possibility of a more expansive Ostloesung by liquidating ghetto after ghetto in the east, in towns that lacked the capacity to receive large numbers; the larger cities had mostly lost their ghettos in autumn 1941 (Mogilev, Bobruisk etc) or never possessed them in the first place (Kiev).

More important detail around my point about readiness vs SS grandiosity.

Quite a post from Nick Terry, IMO. Danke.
Last edited by Statistical Mechanic on Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:37 am

Jeff_36 wrote:I'm pretty confused here and don't know what to think tbh. Part of me sees this as a mystery better left unsolved.

LOL, that isn't what historians generally do! We have this document, we need to place it, so to speak.

But what in your mind are the key points of confusion?

What I find confusing is the conflation in Brayard (or Balsamo's posts) of discussion of the FS (the intended fate of the European Jews) with a "detail" (how to address "exceptional" cases) - which seems to have led to silly maths. That noise-to-signal ratio, to borrow a phrase from a reader, does make the framing here very difficult to straighten.

What I don't find confusing is the way Nick Terry has laid this out, here and elsewhere, and also Gerlach, Roseman, Longerich, and others, despite some disagreements among them. I find it complex, complicated, difficult to play out at a detail level, but that is different.

Jeff_36 wrote:For me, by late March things become a whole lot less complicated.

I think that the way things worked through is possibly more complicated than the early discussions. March through fall 1942 is quite complex, for instance.

Jeff_36 wrote:Perhaps Wannasee was really about extermination, a GP Ost type of extermination via starvation and poor conditions to be carried out as the war was won.

That is not what Gerlach, Longerich, or Roseman argue, nor what I argued. The "preparations" which Bühler and Meyer referred to, IMO, support Longerich's framing - attrition through labor (and by implication general conditions) and mass murder.
Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:47 am

Jeff_36 wrote:
The G-G was not prepared to receive masses of Jews from all over Europe and murder them in spring 1942


That's not what I was saying. I merely stated that by March, the Globocnik operation was now responsible for all nonworking Jews in the GG. Goebbels' diary indicates that the general understanding was that the nonworking Jews deported ti the empty ghettos from Europe were to share the same fate at a later date, as they did.

All it would have taken was a phone call from Himmler to Globus informing him that his perview was expanded. He would have then broke the news to Wirth. Simultaneously, new personnel would have been sent by Brack.

Ok, I misunderstood. I was reacting specifically to this phrase: "an extermination structure was in place in the GG at the time." Which indicated that the required apparatus was in place and in place for Jews from all over Europe, since that is what my comment about the logistics of those deportations referred to. An extermination structure was being built up in the G-G, but was not fully place - not even for the extermination of the Jews of the G-G. The capacity and logistics were being developed, not just in the G-G but in the east as a whole, with fits and starts, etc.

My point was that work was involved, and that work takes (some) time.

So, I disagree, it would have taken more than a phone call - the processes needed to be proven out, the killing apparatuses and camps would have needed expansion, transport had to be organized, staff deployed, etc. And that is what happened, as Nick Terry reminds us, somewhat circuitously and over some time: the Birkenau gas chambers get built, gas vans are deployed, Majdanek gas chambers get built, the early AR gas chambers are re-worked. That is all I'm trying to get at: it is not so simple as presto, change-o.
Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby nickterry » Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:37 pm

In the meantime, I've re-read the various contributions to the Norbert Kampe edited collection on Wannsee that appeared in German for the anniversary a couple of years ago. The contributors are the proverbial cast of heavyweights, even if some don't pull their full weight, when you've got Peter Klein and Andrej Angrick contributing pieces, then there is fruitful thinking going on.

One idea floated by Edouard Husson is worthy of mention, as it was assessed as 'very interesting' by Klein but also has a certain plausibility. In 2005*, Husson advanced the idea that the WP 'plan' actually corresponds to the January 1941 'plan' referred to by Dannecker (on 21.1.41, document in Klarsfeld, Vichy-Auschwitz and widely discussed). In other words, what was being put on the table before the state secretaries was to some extent deceptive. Husson's point is that by January 1942 the escalation of mass murder by shooting in the east rendered the coverstory of roadbuilding to the east not very plausible as Heydrich's real thinking.

Klein echoes this point from another angle in his contribution, asking whether we shouldn't treat roadbuilding to the east as a deception. This would potentially be confirmed in part if we take some of the apologias offered after 1945 by participants semi-seriously. Buhler stuck to his guns about the message conveyed by Heydrich at Wannsee - during interrogation in Poland he reiterated his IMT testimony about deportation to 'northern Russia'. Eichmann's testimony that the discussion was about 'killing' would make logical sense if referring to Lange's activities in Riga. Klein points out that most of a Theresienstadt transport before Wannsee was wiped out on arrival, with only a fraction selected for Salaspils. This is quite possibly the first 'selection on arrival' in the history of the Holocaust - my gloss, not Klein's. More transports were mown down at the end of January on arrival in Riga. Klein refers to Duenamuende but not these three earlier transports in his work on Lodz - Duenamuende proper being later in the spring, but well before the May 1942 'caesura' inferred by Longerich and others re Chelmno/Sobibor/Maly Trostenets.

This interpretation would have the emphasis of the discussions on deportations to the east, either as an agreed cover story (so Buhler could lie to anyone he needed to) or as the main emphasis, i.e. Heydrich saying we're deporting them to Russia, and we'll shoot the unfit but use able bodied Jews for forced labour. What this implies is much less discussion about Poland or 'the camps'.

Given that Klein's major projects have been on Riga and Lodz, he is very familiar with the chains of documents through the autumn of 1941 regarding planning intentions. He correlates the whining of civil administrators with the soothing reassurances by Himmler et al that the Jews would be transported onwards. Only the ideas they came up with - Pskov, Bobruisk, Borisov, Mogilev, a camp under Einsatzgruppe C - remained essentially on the drawing board. Pskov was meant to be the new home for Salaspils, which obviously never happened. (Martin Sandberger tried using Pskov as a coverup for his murder of Estonian Jews, see: Weiss-Wendt, but as usual forgot to blow the idea out of all proportion into a major deportation destination for Reich etc Jews.)

Angrick, Klein's sidekick for the Riga project, is maybe not as good here as he has been in some other essays on similar themes, but his essay on Heydrich's aims at Wannsee usefully reminds us of who wasn't there, albeit he forgot to discuss Bach-Zelewski. An interesting point he made is the absence of Mehlhorn as IdS Posen, despite the 'practical experiences' being gathered in the Warthegau at the time. Angrick points out that Mehlhorn was an early rival of Heydrich for control of the Gestapo, right back at the start of the Nazi regime, and had been somewhat sidelined since.

What Angrick forgot to add was that Eichmann might well have visited Chelmno on 8 January 1942, if we correlate Szlamek's testimony with Eichmann's own admission that he visited Chelmno in winter 1941/2 and with Hoess's comments about experiences with gas vans (Commandant of Auschwitz, p.206), which together with remarks about shootings, suggestive of Eichmann's visit to Minsk most likely to have taken place at the start of March 1942, date the Eichmann-Hoess meeting to March 1942 at the earliest. Point being, Eichmann's vaguely dated testimony about visiting Chelmno at the behest of Mueller was independently alluded to by Hoess in 1946, and could well be dated to before Wannsee if we follow Szlamek; such a dating is also the most logical one.

Angrick obviously also notes the absence of any WVHA representatives, and this underscores another consideration, namely whether Heydrich and the RSHA might have thought about doing 'everything' themselves. The RSHA set up Theresienstadt and ran it as a fiefdom; they asserted control over the Riga ghetto fairly rapidly and ran it under their tight control (Eduard Roschmann as Ghettokommandant), they were similarly 'in charge' in Minsk and of course, in Maly Trostenets. The Salaspils model (an erweiterte Polizeigefaengnis) permitted the Sipo to run what were concentration camps in all but name, as did of course the ghetto model.

Aside: while Lodz remained strongly under civilian direction via the Gettoverwaltung, the Warsaw ghetto was subordinated from the start of the Great Deportation until April 1943 to the Sipo under the so-called Befehlsstelle (Franz Konrad, of KdS Warschau). Himmler intervened rather explicitly to move the workforce to camps under WVHA control. This occurred well after Heydrich's death, and at a time when everyone had learned they had to play well with others, whether SSPF or WVHA agencies, but it's a useful reminder that the Sipo had its fingers in a lot of pies.

Did Heydrich want the RSHA to do everything as of January 1942? Possibly. This assertion of self-importance might be the one thing on which I can agree with Balsamo - he seems to make this point somewhere. As of January 1942, the Sipo had taken a substantial lead in practicing the extermination of Jews. In the bigger killing actions in the east, it needed Orpo and HSSPF support, and sometimes had to cede kill claims to other agencies, but often did not (SK 4a's claim of Babi Yar despite this being a joint HSSPF-Einsatzgruppen action is one of the best known cases). The RSHA was clearly needed to provide personnel for Sonderkommando Lange and to coordinate the dispatch of new-generation gas vans to Chelmno - Eichmann's visit to Chelmno was practically an 'in house' consultation.

The RSHA was also clearly hard at work providing the Einsatzgruppen and other Sipo commands with further gas vans in the winter of 1941/2. With these new toys, it could set up Maly Trostenets, and it liquidated Semlin. The gas van was more than the transitional fossil on the way to the gas chamber dinosaur, it was also the RSHA's bid for an innovative contribution to the solution of Nazi racial and political problems. It's possible that some within the RSHA thought that more could be achieved with gas vans than ended up being the case. Organising further Maly Trostenetses would have kept 'everything' in-house.

Angrick concludes with some interesting reflections on the assignment of Aktion 1005 to the RSHA and its use of the Wannsee house on a few occasions as office space. Obviously, 1005 was another sign of the RSHA's importance to the overall genocide, even if it mostly took the form of the RSHA cleaning up the RSHA's own messes.

Eckart Conze argues in his essay that the Foreign Office was certainly clear before Wannsee what 'deportation to the east' meant, not just because of the famous discussions over Serbian Jews between Rademacher and Eichmann, but above all because of the circulation of the Taetigkeits- und Lageberichte of the Einsatzgruppen. It is known that these circulated more widely through the Nazi bureaucracy, so that one can perhaps assume that Stuckart at the Interior Ministry may have also received them; Stuckart certainly knew enough by December 1941 to remonstrate with Bernhard Loesener, who had just heard news of the shooting of German Jews at Rumbula, telling Loesener that the order came from on high. Stuckart had been told by Himmler in November 1941, 'Jewish question belongs to me'.

Similarly, the infamous Abetz memos from August 1941 speak of deportation-and-sterilisation, while Hans-Christian Jasch discusses a memo from the Interior Ministry about an earlier interministerial conference, which is undated but corresponds to August/September 1941, also speaking of sterilisation of Mischlinge along with a sharper definition of who was to be deported if in mixed marriages - a virtual rehearsal for the Wannsee debate.

Wisliceny's 1946 essay on the evolution of the Final Solution, meanwhile, offered the plausible speculation that deportations to the east were organised as this would place the deportees beyond the reach of the law - something the 11th amendment to the Reich Citizenship Law underlined formally - and in a region where the Commissar Order was in force, therefore 'allowing' the SS to murder whoever they saw fit.

These earlier sources show that 'the east' was long conceived of as a space in which the Nazis could do what they pleased, and it's unsurprising that the RSHA stuck to this conception for quite some time after Wannsee, even though it was forced to abandon most of the earlier vision for a variety of practical reasons, mainly the inability to coordinate transportation and killing/employment/accommodation resources.

The two most important immediate post-Wannsee sources, Himmler to Gluecks on 26.1.42 and Eichmann's circular of 31.1.42, suggest that the RSHA could have been taken somewhat by surprise by Himmler's unfulfilled order to transfer 150,000 Reich Jews to KZs. The SS-Hauptaemter met prior to Wannsee in a series of meetings that led to the establishment of the WVHA and the full subordination of the IKL to Pohl. So it's possible that Heydrich, Pohl and Himmler had undertaken some coordination before Wannsee, but if so the first sign was on 26.1.42.

On 31.1.42, Eichmann therefore notified the Stapostellen that the next wave of deportations from the Reich would be sent to as yet undetermined reception possibilities. This is the best clue one could wish for that the RSHA really didn't know what the {!#%@} was going on at that time. But within a month, there was more detail: Slovaks and French to Auschwitz; Reich Jews to Lublin; everybody else wait one, then let's send more Slovaks to Lublin.

The Riga quota ran out on 10 February 1942 - this would have been a scheduled transport program, and once the quota of 20 transports was fulfilled, it couldn't be rapidly renegotiated or restarted. A full month unfolded before more trains were sent, to Izbica. The first trains to Minsk left on May 6, the first Theresienstadt transports from Germany proper left on 2 June, virtually in parallel with the direct Sobibor transports. Transports to Riga resumed only on 15 August 1942.

It's noteworthy that February 1942 was regarded as a month of outright crisis for transportation on the eastern front. All three army groups were offered the choice between more reinforcements or more supplies because they couldn't have both. The crisis across the entire front peaked in March/April, during which time no Jewish transports reached the east whatsoever, even though RSHA commands existed in Riga and Minsk that would have been more than capable of eliminating further transports.

In all honesty: I think by 20.1.42 Heydrich and co had a vague idea about deporting all Reich Jews to the occupied eastern territories, and hadn't really begun to think seriously about western Europe, although the principle of deportation eastwards had been established with the reprisal deportation plan (leading to the first transports to Auschwitz from France). They were only just getting a handle on how many would have to be deported - the WP figures for the Netherlands and France are explained in some detail in other articles in the Kampe collection, including speculating about the possible inclusion of North Africa - and most of the 'necessary' regulations (yellow star, etc) hadn't even been issued in the Netherlands, Belgium or France. In addition, division after division was being transported from OB West to the eastern front through the winter of 1941/2.

While the paper trail re Reich Jews to the occupied eastern territories is extensive, there is very little to suggest that anyone had a precise destination in mind for Jews from France etc before spring/summer 1942. A direct approach to Rosenberg by Abetz had been rebuffed in October 1941. I do however think that there was a provisional notion of Auschwitz from at the latest March 1942, the key to the delay being numerous technical issues getting the round-ups prepared, ordinances passed, and waiting for the bulk of military traffic from west to east to die down. Moreover, a too-early start in one country might have had serious knock on consequences on the others, as in fact occurred with mass flights southwards across all three countries. The actual implementation of arrests and deportations in the west was much more blow-like, with a rapid sequence of transports in July/August 1942 in all three countries. France could lead off with four transports in June 1942 only because they were from existing internment camps. A mere 5,000 were deported in these initial transports, against the backdrop of the reprisal crisis and the shooting of hostages. The first transport in July 1942 leaving from France left on the second day of the Vel d'Hiv roundup. It wasn't until August 1942 that selections on arrival became routine for transports from France.

Back to the point: there is essentially no evidence that the Nazis ever thought in concrete terms in 1941/2 about deporting west European Jews to the occupied eastern territories. By concrete terms I mean to specific locations or even to regions. The earlier vague thinking about west European Jews to 'the east' never had a chance to crystallise into plans, due to the priority given to the expulsion of Jews from the Reich; to the changing transport situation; to the lack of capacity to kill/employ/accommodate them anywhere in the east proper; and to the growing attraction exerted by Auschwitz.

Since I would argue that Himmler decided to make Auschwitz an Endloesung site at the end of January 1942, and notified Hoess very soon after this of his decision ('under four eyes', which is why it doesn't show up in the Dienstkalender), then one can say that from the moment it was decided to deport the next wave of Reich Jews largely to Lublin, i.e. some time between 31.1.42 and 3.3.42 when the GG was properly notified, west European Jews would likely be sent to Auschwitz in large numbers, because they were the next-largest group after the Slovaks, and because negotiations with the Hungarians and Romanians (alluded to in the Dannecker note on the 11.6.42 meeting) had not yet begun. If Auschwitz needed labourers, which it badly did, then logically they could only come from western Europe or the immediate vicinity in Poland, if Reich Jews were slated to go elsewhere. The rhetoric and cover of 'Arbeitseinsatz' made a bit more sense for western Europe whereas 'resettlement' made a bit more sense for the Reich.






*I just ordered Husson's essay via abebooks and had the order confirmed within five minutes and notified of its dispatch within an hour and a half by the French secondhand dealer. Wow...

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby scrmbldggs » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:36 pm

Wow. I haven't even been fully through all of the latest posts yet but already wish to thank you guys for all that information!
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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Jeff_36 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:11 pm

So, I disagree, it would have taken more than a phone call - the processes needed to be proven out, the killing apparatuses and camps would have needed expansion, transport had to be organized, staff deployed, etc. And that is what happened, as Nick Terry reminds us, somewhat circuitously and over some time: the Birkenau gas chambers get built, gas vans are deployed, Majdanek gas chambers get built, the early AR gas chambers are re-worked. That is all I'm trying to get at: it is not so simple as presto, change-o.


I am not referring to a one size fit all Presto change-o. I was merely stating that the damming of the nonworking GG Jews was, IMO an absolutely decisive step towards what eventually unfolded. Globocnik already had been building an extermination structure for the Lublin Jews when the decision on the entire GG was made. Thus: Once the Nazis made thid decision, there was likely an understanding that Globus was already in the area in question and that his apparatus-under-construction could easily be utilized for this purpose, provided that it's capacity be expanded.

I agree that the expansion took time, but the intention re the Nonworking GG Jews was solidified in Febuary IMO and would have taken a mere phone call to Lublin in order to be passed on.

Think like this:

Himmler: "Globus, I understand that you have been initiating measures to exterminate the Jews of the Lublin ghetto?"

Globus: "Yes, indeed, as you instructed me upon my meeting with you in October"

Himmler: "Well, it has been decided that the mesure has been expanded to all of the General Government"

Globus: "What the {!#%@}!?!??!, boss, I've got like five guys here right now, Wirth is scaring the {!#%@} out of everyone, they're drunk all the time, I don't think we have the manpower or facilities for that kind of operation."

Himmler: "Fear not, Brack is sending you more men, I order you to expand the facilities as soon as possible, report all details to me and further any further personnel requests to Brack."

Globus: "this will take time"

Himmler: "be ready to handle some deportations in March, and to be at full capacity some time later".


like I said, in May there is a noticeable escalation after the death of Heydrich, with nonworking Jews from all over Europe being deported to BST. Additionally you have the same thing going on at A-B.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby scrmbldggs » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:28 pm

Jeff_36 wrote:like I said, in May there is a noticeable escalation after the death of Heydrich, with nonworking Jews from all over Europe being deported to BST...

Assuming the "T" in BST stands for Treblinka II: that wasn't operational until July 1942?
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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:39 pm

Ok, now we are going somewhere! For my own thinking, I have to write out some quick responses, to see how my understanding tracks with Nick Terry's post . . .

nickterry wrote:In the meantime, I've re-read the various contributions to the Norbert Kampe edited collection on Wannsee that appeared in German for the anniversary a couple of years ago. The contributors are the proverbial cast of heavyweights, even if some don't pull their full weight, when you've got Peter Klein and Andrej Angrick contributing pieces, then there is fruitful thinking going on.

One idea floated by Edouard Husson is worthy of mention, as it was assessed as 'very interesting' by Klein but also has a certain plausibility. In 2005*, Husson advanced the idea that the WP 'plan' actually corresponds to the January 1941 'plan' referred to by Dannecker (on 21.1.41, document in Klarsfeld, Vichy-Auschwitz and widely discussed). In other words, what was being put on the table before the state secretaries was to some extent deceptive. Husson's point is that by January 1942 the escalation of mass murder by shooting in the east rendered the coverstory of roadbuilding to the east not very plausible as Heydrich's real thinking.

This view also rubbishes denier fixation with road-building (e.g., as we saw at RODOH when they tried tackling the Wannsee protocol, going so far as to say that the conference was about road-building!). Another thought I've had about the protocol's reference to road-building is that, in line with the thought that by the time of the Wannsee conference concrete particulars as to "methods" and "assignments" hadn't been fixed, road-building was a "for instance"; both thoughts could be true, the "for instance" being a small thing blown up to a deception as Nick Terry writes below.

nickterry wrote:Klein echoes this point from another angle in his contribution, asking whether we shouldn't treat roadbuilding to the east as a deception. This would potentially be confirmed in part if we take some of the apologias offered after 1945 by participants semi-seriously. Buhler stuck to his guns about the message conveyed by Heydrich at Wannsee - during interrogation in Poland he reiterated his IMT testimony about deportation to 'northern Russia'. Eichmann's testimony that the discussion was about 'killing' would make logical sense if referring to Lange's activities in Riga. Klein points out that most of a Theresienstadt transport before Wannsee was wiped out on arrival, with only a fraction selected for Salaspils. This is quite possibly the first 'selection on arrival' in the history of the Holocaust - my gloss, not Klein's. More transports were mown down at the end of January on arrival in Riga. Klein refers to Duenamuende but not these three earlier transports in his work on Lodz - Duenamuende proper being later in the spring, but well before the May 1942 'caesura' inferred by Longerich and others re Chelmno/Sobibor/Maly Trostenets.

To "say it out loud," I don't think that the conference "planned gas chambers" or any such things.

nickterry wrote:This interpretation would have the emphasis of the discussions on deportations to the east, either as an agreed cover story (so Buhler could lie to anyone he needed to) or as the main emphasis, i.e. Heydrich saying we're deporting them to Russia, and we'll shoot the unfit but use able bodied Jews for forced labour. What this implies is much less discussion about Poland or 'the camps'.

Which in turn could explain why during discussion at the conference Bühler sought reassurance on, more or less, "Poland [and] 'the camps.'"

nickterry wrote:What Angrick forgot to add was that Eichmann might well have visited Chelmno on 8 January 1942, if we correlate Szlamek's testimony with Eichmann's own admission that he visited Chelmno in winter 1941/2 and with Hoess's comments about experiences with gas vans (Commandant of Auschwitz, p.206), which together with remarks about shootings, suggestive of Eichmann's visit to Minsk most likely to have taken place at the start of March 1942, date the Eichmann-Hoess meeting to March 1942 at the earliest. Point being, Eichmann's vaguely dated testimony about visiting Chelmno at the behest of Mueller was independently alluded to by Hoess in 1946, and could well be dated to before Wannsee if we follow Szlamek; such a dating is also the most logical one.

Which 1) implies that gas vans were part of the practical experience alluded to at the conference and 2) reinforces the plausibility of Bargatzky's recollection, which focused on gas vans - and Wannsee - and Heydrich's disappointment regarding the vans ("After a briefing on the results of the Wannsee Conference, he mentioned the use of gassing vans in the East. . . . Heydrich added confidently, 'bigger, more perfect and numerically more productive solutions' had been developed."). Again, gassing not as a focus of the planning at the conference . . . but not ignored either.

nickterry wrote:Angrick obviously also notes the absence of any WVHA representatives, and this underscores another consideration, namely whether Heydrich and the RSHA might have thought about doing 'everything' themselves. The RSHA set up Theresienstadt and ran it as a fiefdom; they asserted control over the Riga ghetto fairly rapidly and ran it under their tight control (Eduard Roschmann as Ghettokommandant), they were similarly 'in charge' in Minsk and of course, in Maly Trostenets. The Salaspils model (an erweiterte Polizeigefaengnis) permitted the Sipo to run what were concentration camps in all but name, as did of course the ghetto model.

Aside: while Lodz remained strongly under civilian direction via the Gettoverwaltung, the Warsaw ghetto was subordinated from the start of the Great Deportation until April 1943 to the Sipo under the so-called Befehlsstelle (Franz Konrad, of KdS Warschau). Himmler intervened rather explicitly to move the workforce to camps under WVHA control. This occurred well after Heydrich's death, and at a time when everyone had learned they had to play well with others, whether SSPF or WVHA agencies, but it's a useful reminder that the Sipo had its fingers in a lot of pies.

Did Heydrich want the RSHA to do everything as of January 1942? Possibly. This assertion of self-importance might be the one thing on which I can agree with Balsamo - he seems to make this point somewhere.

I don't disagree that assertion of RSHA primacy was part of Heydrich's intent at Wannsee but struggle with three issues: 1) making this "power grab" the sole focus of the conference, as Balsamo did in the RODOH thread and Bloxham pretty much does; 2) the attendance and participation of the state secretaries, the under secretary of the Foreign Office, and even officials from the Reich Chancellery as well as Freisler (Propaganda Ministry also having been invited); and 3) the likely discussion at the conference, at least according to the protocol, on topics for which expert input and cooperation were sought and required (allied countries, Mischlinge/Mixed marriages/sterilization) - this last area plays out further in the 2nd and 3rd FS conferences. Nick Terry knows my thoughts on the Luther memo and issues coordinating with various countries (linked to above).

I'm not disputing Heydrich's assertion of power at Wannsee - I am adding to it. If that makes sense.

nickterry wrote:As of January 1942, the Sipo had taken a substantial lead in practicing the extermination of Jews. In the bigger killing actions in the east, it needed Orpo and HSSPF support, and sometimes had to cede kill claims to other agencies, but often did not (SK 4a's claim of Babi Yar despite this being a joint HSSPF-Einsatzgruppen action is one of the best known cases). The RSHA was clearly needed to provide personnel for Sonderkommando Lange and to coordinate the dispatch of new-generation gas vans to Chelmno - Eichmann's visit to Chelmno was practically an 'in house' consultation.

The RSHA was also clearly hard at work providing the Einsatzgruppen and other Sipo commands with further gas vans in the winter of 1941/2. With these new toys, it could set up Maly Trostenets, and it liquidated Semlin. The gas van was more than the transitional fossil on the way to the gas chamber dinosaur, it was also the RSHA's bid for an innovative contribution to the solution of Nazi racial and political problems. It's possible that some within the RSHA thought that more could be achieved with gas vans than ended up being the case. Organising further Maly Trostenetses would have kept 'everything' in-house.

Agreed, see note above. I'd add transportation as another area where "support" was needed.

nickterry wrote:Angrick concludes with some interesting reflections on the assignment of Aktion 1005 to the RSHA and its use of the Wannsee house on a few occasions as office space.

That's wild.

nickterry wrote:Eckart Conze argues in his essay that the Foreign Office was certainly clear before Wannsee what 'deportation to the east' meant, not just because of the famous discussions over Serbian Jews between Rademacher and Eichmann, but above all because of the circulation of the Taetigkeits- und Lageberichte of the Einsatzgruppen. It is known that these circulated more widely through the Nazi bureaucracy, so that one can perhaps assume that Stuckart at the Interior Ministry may have also received them; Stuckart certainly knew enough by December 1941 to remonstrate with Bernhard Loesener, who had just heard news of the shooting of German Jews at Rumbula, telling Loesener that the order came from on high. Stuckart had been told by Himmler in November 1941, 'Jewish question belongs to me'.

I completely agree, not that Conze needs my agreement, and explained this same point, regarding the TuLBs, in the RODOH post linked to above. I think that this line of thought is critical to a full understanding of the conference.

nickterry wrote:Wisliceny's 1946 essay on the evolution of the Final Solution, meanwhile, offered the plausible speculation that deportations to the east were organised as this would place the deportees beyond the reach of the law - something the 11th amendment to the Reich Citizenship Law underlined formally - and in a region where the Commissar Order was in force, therefore 'allowing' the SS to murder whoever they saw fit.

These earlier sources show that 'the east' was long conceived of as a space in which the Nazis could do what they pleased, and it's unsurprising that the RSHA stuck to this conception for quite some time after Wannsee, even though it was forced to abandon most of the earlier vision for a variety of practical reasons, mainly the inability to coordinate transportation and killing/employment/accommodation resources.

Seems to fit with Himmler's impatience with the legalistic, definitional discussions of who was a Jew, which took place in the Ostland in early 1942 IIRC (I think Himmler slapped all this down in summer?).

nickterry wrote:The two most important immediate post-Wannsee sources, Himmler to Gluecks on 26.1.42 and Eichmann's circular of 31.1.42, suggest that the RSHA could have been taken somewhat by surprise by Himmler's unfulfilled order to transfer 150,000 Reich Jews to KZs. The SS-Hauptaemter met prior to Wannsee in a series of meetings that led to the establishment of the WVHA and the full subordination of the IKL to Pohl. So it's possible that Heydrich, Pohl and Himmler had undertaken some coordination before Wannsee, but if so the first sign was on 26.1.42.

On 31.1.42, Eichmann therefore notified the Stapostellen that the next wave of deportations from the Reich would be sent to as yet undetermined reception possibilities. This is the best clue one could wish for that the RSHA really didn't know what the {!#%@} was going on at that time. But within a month, there was more detail: Slovaks and French to Auschwitz; Reich Jews to Lublin; everybody else wait one, then let's send more Slovaks to Lublin.

The Riga quota ran out on 10 February 1942 - this would have been a scheduled transport program, and once the quota of 20 transports was fulfilled, it couldn't be rapidly renegotiated or restarted. A full month unfolded before more trains were sent, to Izbica. The first trains to Minsk left on May 6, the first Theresienstadt transports from Germany proper left on 2 June, virtually in parallel with the direct Sobibor transports. Transports to Riga resumed only on 15 August 1942.

It's noteworthy that February 1942 was regarded as a month of outright crisis for transportation on the eastern front. All three army groups were offered the choice between more reinforcements or more supplies because they couldn't have both. The crisis across the entire front peaked in March/April, during which time no Jewish transports reached the east whatsoever, even though RSHA commands existed in Riga and Minsk that would have been more than capable of eliminating further transports.

Thanks, this further details/clarifies the time lines.

nickterry wrote:In all honesty: I think by 20.1.42 Heydrich and co had a vague idea about deporting all Reich Jews to the occupied eastern territories, and hadn't really begun to think seriously about western Europe, although the principle of deportation eastwards had been established with the reprisal deportation plan (leading to the first transports to Auschwitz from France). They were only just getting a handle on how many would have to be deported - the WP figures for the Netherlands and France are explained in some detail in other articles in the Kampe collection, including speculating about the possible inclusion of North Africa - and most of the 'necessary' regulations (yellow star, etc) hadn't even been issued in the Netherlands, Belgium or France.

Fully agree; in fact, part of the circular to state police stations sent by Eichmann as a follow-up to conference IIRC was to provide numerical data on Jews.

nickterry wrote:In addition, division after division was being transported from OB West to the eastern front through the winter of 1941/2.

While the paper trail re Reich Jews to the occupied eastern territories is extensive, there is very little to suggest that anyone had a precise destination in mind for Jews from France etc before spring/summer 1942.

And, I think, we have to draw some kind of line between the reprisal transports of March and those planned for summer 1942, which were worked out in May and June, with the key meeting being the RSHA planning session on 11 June. OTOH the March transports went to Auschwitz, this whole idea of Jews to the KLs was somewhere in the mix (however twisted around), and the June conference had at least the first transports being for labor (which was how it turned out). Maybe Auschwitz as a placeholder or as a point of continuity . . .

nickterry wrote:A direct approach to Rosenberg by Abetz had been rebuffed in October 1941. I do however think that there was a provisional notion of Auschwitz from at the latest March 1942, the key to the delay being numerous technical issues getting the round-ups prepared, ordinances passed, and waiting for the bulk of military traffic from west to east to die down.

Ah, yes, should be clear that I agree.

nickterry wrote:Moreover, a too-early start in one country might have had serious knock on consequences on the others, as in fact occurred with mass flights southwards across all three countries.

This is important IMO (partly because it speaks to Brayard's use of the 16 March letter but more importantly as an implementation factor that I should have mentioned).

nickterry wrote:The actual implementation of arrests and deportations in the west was much more blow-like, with a rapid sequence of transports in July/August 1942 in all three countries. France could lead off with four transports in June 1942 only because they were from existing internment camps. A mere 5,000 were deported in these initial transports, against the backdrop of the reprisal crisis and the shooting of hostages. The first transport in July 1942 leaving from France left on the second day of the Vel d'Hiv roundup. It wasn't until August 1942 that selections on arrival became routine for transports from France.

This "blow-like" strike in July was prepared in May-June. Despite the SS's appetite-belly problem, they could be very effective. They used brute force, deceit, carrots, collaborators, etc - along with good planning and micro-level management - to be so.

nickterry wrote:Back to the point: there is essentially no evidence that the Nazis ever thought in concrete terms in 1941/2 about deporting west European Jews to the occupied eastern territories. By concrete terms I mean to specific locations or even to regions. The earlier vague thinking about west European Jews to 'the east' never had a chance to crystallise into plans, due to the priority given to the expulsion of Jews from the Reich; to the changing transport situation; to the lack of capacity to kill/employ/accommodate them anywhere in the east proper; and to the growing attraction exerted by Auschwitz.

Which also implies the creation/utilization of the killing installations dedicated to clearing eastern regions of Jews not inducted into labor or kept in ghettos.

nickterry wrote:Since I would argue that Himmler decided to make Auschwitz an Endloesung site at the end of January 1942, and notified Hoess very soon after this of his decision ('under four eyes', which is why it doesn't show up in the Dienstkalender), then one can say that from the moment it was decided to deport the next wave of Reich Jews largely to Lublin, i.e. some time between 31.1.42 and 3.3.42 when the GG was properly notified, west European Jews would likely be sent to Auschwitz in large numbers, because they were the next-largest group after the Slovaks, and because negotiations with the Hungarians and Romanians (alluded to in the Dannecker note on the 11.6.42 meeting) had not yet begun. If Auschwitz needed labourers, which it badly did, then logically they could only come from western Europe or the immediate vicinity in Poland, if Reich Jews were slated to go elsewhere. The rhetoric and cover of 'Arbeitseinsatz' made a bit more sense for western Europe whereas 'resettlement' made a bit more sense for the Reich.

Which ties into what happened with the very first transports from western Europe and with the subjection thereafter of transports to selection.

I've got think a bit about Majdanek. It should be stressed - to myself! - that Majdanek during this period didn't have gassing installations (not until October 1942, close to when Bełzec was wound down). In fact - and I have to puzzle through this a bit more - up to April 1942 (the exact time period of the deportations of Slovakian Jews to Lublin) Himmler had plans drawn up to have Majdanek hold first 150,000, then 250,000 prisoners (e.g., another example of SS grandiosity) - but in April those plans were scaled back considerably (to a 50,000-prisoner camp - and KL Lublin never held even half that many prisoners at a time). Whatever the grand plan for Majdanek, it was the Auschwitz complex by summer 1942 that was to receive the western Jews and figure more in the FS. The warning here is focusing too much, under "pressure" of denier obsessions, on AR and trying to read the evolution of planning and implementation through an AR/G-G lens; not that the Lublin area didn't figure in the destruction of western Jews, but Auschwitz was by summer 1942 the focal point.
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Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Jeff_36 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:39 pm

On 31.1.42, Eichmann therefore notified the Stapostellen that the next wave of deportations from the Reich would be sent to as yet undetermined reception possibilities. This is the best clue one could wish for that the RSHA really didn't know what the {!#%@} was going on at that time. But within a month, there was more detail: Slovaks and French to Auschwitz; Reich Jews to Lublin; everybody else wait one, then let's send more Slovaks to Lublin.


This to me indicates a "make up as you go along" approach on part of the key players here. IMO, the portion of Jews expected to be exterminated grew gradually from Bursary onward until August, when extermination became the defacto solution. Think of my snowball rolling down a hill analogy.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Jeff_36 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:50 pm

This interpretation would have the emphasis of the discussions on deportations to the east, either as an agreed cover story (so Buhler could lie to anyone he needed to) or as the main emphasis, i.e. Heydrich saying we're deporting them to Russia, and we'll shoot the unfit but use able bodied Jews for forced labour. What this implies is much less discussion about Poland or 'the camps'.


I lean towards the second option. It would explain why Buhler continues to stick to his guns long after the gig was up.

I am not sure if his assertion about northern Russia being mentioned as a possible solution was a lie or not, it is paluable that Heydrich pitched it to the delegates as part of the then developmental FS. That being said, he absolutely was lying about assuming that the Jews were resettled when they disspaeard from the Ghettos. That was a Whopper.

Sidenote: He stated (humorously) that he thought the Globocnik camps were "workshops" for "processing furs". :roll: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
This punches a gaping {!#%@} hole through denial's chest, as the existence of a real resettlement program would not necessitate the use of such a silly and blatantly dishonest description.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:52 pm

Jeff_36 wrote:
So, I disagree, it would have taken more than a phone call - the processes needed to be proven out, the killing apparatuses and camps would have needed expansion, transport had to be organized, staff deployed, etc. And that is what happened, as Nick Terry reminds us, somewhat circuitously and over some time: the Birkenau gas chambers get built, gas vans are deployed, Majdanek gas chambers get built, the early AR gas chambers are re-worked. That is all I'm trying to get at: it is not so simple as presto, change-o.


I am not referring to a one size fit all Presto change-o. I was merely stating that the damming of the nonworking GG Jews was, IMO an absolutely decisive step towards what eventually unfolded. Globocnik already had been building an extermination structure for the Lublin Jews when the decision on the entire GG was made. Thus: Once the Nazis made thid decision, there was likely an understanding that Globus was already in the area in question and that his apparatus-under-construction could easily be utilized for this purpose, provided that it's capacity be expanded.

OK but that's a different topic to logistical/implementation issues which is what I thought you were talking about. And the G-G is only part of this. I am not disagreeing with ease of rework - just time lines. FSS, Treblinka was closed for a couple weeks just to clean up Eberl's mess, and Sobibór was shut down for IIRC two months to update the rail lines. That's the sort of time-lag I'm trying to put on the table. I wasn't referring to the G-G Jews at all . . .

Jeff_36 wrote:I agree that the expansion took time, but the intention re the Nonworking GG Jews was solidified in Febuary IMO . . . like I said, in May there is a noticeable escalation after the death of Heydrich, with nonworking Jews from all over Europe being deported to BST. Additionally you have the same thing going on at A-B.

I have no problem with this so long as 1) we don't read backwards to Wannsee that the conference concerned only Reich Jews or mainly Mischlinge or whatever and 2) we recognize convergent factors, including the transport, construction, roundup, reception, etc issues discussed.
Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby nickterry » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:55 pm

Ironically, Treblinka II was most probably ordered constructed on April 17, 1942 during a visit by Himmler to Warsaw, well before Heydrich's assassination. One might add: Reich Jews were deported from the Lodz ghetto to Chelmno weeks before Heydrich's assassination; the first transport from Vienna for Maly Trostenets and death left on May 6, 1942...
https://www.bundesarchiv.de/gedenkbuch/ ... tml?page=1

scrmbldggs, you might find this critical review of Florent Brayard's most recent book of interest
http://www.hsozkult.de/publicationrevie ... cher-18397
I agree with the thrust of the criticisms.

All may find Brayard's most recent article in English of interest, if read with the caveats and cautions mentioned above by various parties.
http://www.cairn-int.info/article-E_POX ... tisans.htm

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jul 08, 2015 5:01 pm

nickterry wrote:One might add: Reich Jews were deported from the Lodz ghetto to Chelmno weeks before Heydrich's assassination; the first transport from Vienna for Maly Trostenets and death left on May 6, 1942...

Indeed. Also, to reiterate what Nick Terry wrote above, the Dünamünde actions were in March. As to Lodz, Rumkowski made the decision to include the Reich Jews in order to meet the German quota . . . but there was no stop put on this transport. And, as an aside, by this time, Reich Jews were being shoved into "holding pens" like Izbica in the Lublin area - close by Bełzec and what would be Sobibór, of course.

As should be obvious from my comments here and elsewhere, I really do see this as both a radicalizing process and a developmental/implementation process, involving a complex of factors, and don't buy Longerich's argument on the assassination of Heydrich. I once did, but that is another story . . .
Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby nickterry » Wed Jul 08, 2015 5:23 pm

StatMech, you should run Sandkuehler's review of Brayard (Auschwitz, enquete sur un complot nazi) through google translate; it becomes ever more devastasting as it goes on.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Jeff_36 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 5:32 pm

I was under the impression that the killing of Heydrich led to the already existing actions being expanded to a more comprehensive level.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:30 pm

I would like to try an analogy here so as to get to a better understanding of the timing issues we’ve been tripping over. I hope this post helps explain why I consider the concept ”speedy murder” as used by Balsamo to be a false or spurious problem - I'd say the same for some of the decision time lines offered. Both IMO are additional fabricated points of confusion, wholly unhelpful to understanding what happened during winter-spring 1942.
nickterry wrote:Back to 20.1.42: the 'practical experiences' referred to in the WP were represented at the meeting by KdS Lettland, Stubaf. Lange, whose command was busy overseeing the literal accommodation of Reich Jews in the Riga ghetto along with the Salapsils camp in the weeks before and after the conference. Other destinations that had been discussed and planned to the same depth as Riga in the autumn and winter of 1941 were to be found in HSSPF Russland-Mitte's sector, specifically in Mogilev, with ideas about Smolensk, Bobruisk and Borisov also mentioned, as well as Minsk. We also know that crematoria were ordered for Mogilev, which eventually ended up installed at Birkenau.

Practical experience: as above, gas vans and Chelmno, T-4 (fixed gas chambers), open-air shootings (again represented by Lange at Wannsee), deportations from the Greater Reich (also experience in resettlement in Poland - large-scale movement of people), forced labor (ghettos and camps), 14f13.

So I'd like to focus on 14f13 and use this case study to think through how, even for a relatively contained and not very large, comparatively, speaking killing program, the time line played out. As should be obvious from the below, implementation required a number of "preparatory" steps, staffing and recruitment work, orientation and training efforts - and involved blockages and a degree of circuitousness, improvisation, and planning and re-planning. (Looking at 14f13 as part of the escalation process which has been discussed is another fruitful connection, but here I'm addressing not that process but rather the implementation time lines for large projects - "controlling" for the 3rd Reich and murder programs by focusing in 14f13.)

14f13 was a murder program designed to reduce KL population, free up space and save resources, and target "unfit" prisoners. Like T-4, and like Einsatz Reinhard, the 14f13 program was at the outset meant to be kept secret, involved trial runs, made use of a selection process, and culminated in the murder of “unfit” prisoners, in its first phase, at specially designed and maintained gassing facilities. Unlike Reinhard, however, 14f13 targeted non-Jewish prisoners as well as Jews; utilized an “outsourcing” model (T-4 killers rather than SS, but with IKL control); could leverage existing structures and facilities; did not involve roundups and long-distance transport (victims were listed out in the KLs and taken by Gekrat or Reichsbann trains to nearby “euthanasia” centers- Sonnenstein, Hartheim, or Bernberg, the director of this last center being our friend Irmfried Eberl); and maintained at least initially the cover of medicine (doctor supervision, death certificates, notifications to families).

The number of 14f13 victims is uncertain - probably in excess of 20,000 in its various phases (compared to 80,000 in the “official” phase of the so-called euthanasia killings and to in excess of 2.5 million in the gas chambers of the FS) - in other words, about 25% the size of T-4 and less than 1% as big as the "death camp" aspect of the FS.

Let’s look at the 14f13 time line, which Wachsmann describes as Himmler going “fast” - and involves the launch and maturation of the 14f13 program over nearly 2 years. This period involves a time lag of about 6-8 months from conception to the first full implementation of the program:

Rough 14f13 Time Line

1940: rumors recorded about extension of T-4 to KLs

early January 1941: Himmler trip to Dachau solidifies idea to eliminate “excess” (invalid) KL prisoners

13 January 1941: Himmler discusses with Brack (FC) possible use of T-4 gassing facilities and staff to reduce number of “ballast existences” in the camps; follow-up with Bouhler (FC)

28 March 1941: Himmler discussion with Brack, probably after final go-ahead from Führer for killing program

early April 1941: T-4 doctors Mennecke and Steinmeyer sent to Sachsenhausen for first run of program; 4 weeks later, following the selection of about 400 prisoners, the victims were transported to Sonnenstein and gassed

around same time: IKL draws up initial criteria (prisoners unable to work - cripples, incurables, TB patients and other infectious prisoners, debilitated prisoners, etc); selection process generally to be 2-step (camp doctor makes initial selection, T-4 doctor does final selection and completes forms); lining up of 12 euthanasia doctors; communication and transport protocols; secrecy oaths; orientation for doctors

May 1941: T-4 doctors to Auschwitz for 2nd run of program; instructions to camp SS to begin identifying prisoners for 14f13 program

June - July 1941: program initiated at Buchenwald and Mauthausen

August 1941: Hitler orders “official” halt to T-4 program/euthanasia gassings in reaction to public concerns and protests

early September 1941: Himmler okays resumption of identification of prisoners for 14f13

September 1941 - April 1942: 14f13 in full swing at Buchenwald (round 2), with euthanasia doctors working in Dachau (pre-selection of 1,000 Dachau prisoners for 14f13), Ravensbrück, Gross-Rosen, Flossenbürg, Neuengamme - proceeding camp by camp but returning to Ravensbrück for a round 2 at that camp; instructions to camp personnel and the drawing up of preliminary victims’ lists took several weeks at each camp - e.g., at Ravensbrück in fall 1941 camp doctor Sonntag began compiling lists using preliminary criteria (a process that involved the Aufseherin as well as prisoner functionaries) - during the first round at Ravensbrück (November 1941) the criteria and quota were changed to include more prisoners and a 2nd round of selections in January was required to meet the eventual target of about 2,000 out of 6,544 female prisoners held there

December 1941: communication to KL commandants to prepare for visits by euthanasia doctors; further process and timing instructions (to Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen, Flossenbürg, Neuengamme, and Niederhagen); further selection visits to commence late January 1942

December 1941: general expansion of 14f13 criteria to target non-medical cases (almost all Jews examined by T-4 doctors, inclusion of political criteria, prisoner behavior, purported moral character of the prisoner, etc); e.g., at Ravensbrück the orderly process for pre-screening was abandoned and prisoner block leaders were enlisted to select victims

26 March 1942: with death toll of around 6,500, 14f13 program cut back by IKL (Leibehenschel circular to KL commandants, tightening of criteria to focus only on truly infirm and “save” more prisoners for labor); probably the curtailment of 14f13 was mostly due, however, to priority demands for T-4 personnel - namely, their assignment to the Einsatz Reinhard camps around this time and thus their unavailability for 14f13

spring 1942: KL SS men take over 14f13, focusing on Musselmanner and infectious inmates without use of T-4 doctors, commissions, transports, etc - murder most often now by lethal injection but using a variety of means

July 1942: Buchenwald 1st major “injection action”

late 1942: institutionalization of 14f13 killings within camps, often during selections by camp SS doctors within camp infirmaries

October 1942: utilization of Dachau as collection center for killing of “physically weak prisoners who are not fit for use”; commencement of shipment of Musselmanner from various camps to Dachau for extermination (invalid transports)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Here, for this relatively small program, compared to the FS, the approval, logistical and preparatory, policy, and other time frames are on the order of weeks and months. As with the FS, the planners had to cope with obstacles (in this case the erosion of secrecy and its fallout). Why should we expect to see anything less for the FS, a far more complex program, with a fully continental scope, involving multiple jurisdictions, far more serious logistical (and distance) challenges, and not able to make use of a fully functioning, ready-made apparatus?
Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:31 pm

nickterry wrote:StatMech, you should run Sandkuehler's review of Brayard (Auschwitz, enquete sur un complot nazi) through google translate; it becomes ever more devastasting as it goes on.

Appreciated, will read Brayard's English article which you also linked to later - as to Sandkühler, whose essay in Herbert's National Socialist Extermination Policies I much liked, wow, shattering: "den systematischen Judenmord insgesamt als Verschwörung („complot“) Hitlers, Himmlers und Heydrichs hinstellen zu können"; the Kaufman argument relative to Judenpolitik; the characterization of agents and officials as "Zahl von Mitwissern" of the conspiracy; the tunnel-vision that leads to Mischlinge, labor, and sterilization as Brayard’s summation of Wannsee; Brayard's apparent helplessness on "secrecy" and "knowledge" (subjects dear to me from Klemperer to Rabinowicz, from Willy Cohn or Marianne Strauss to Hersh Wasser or Herman Kruk), overlooking (did I get this right?) Himmler's acceleration order of June '42; the neat but misleading dichotomy of eastern and western Jews which Brayard uses in opposition to a rather, at the very least, messy documentary record; what I take to be Brayard's manipulation of the timing of events to create this dichotomous scenario; the incredibly damaging gloss Sandkühler has for the Riga shootings (I wish I had a good translation of that paragraph) - Stuckart's very early echo of the rationalizations of Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler et al for the destructive actions taken against the Jews; how Auschwitz construction bursts the conspiracy idea - these are rather incredible failings for Brayard and come off, to me, in Google Translate I admit, if Sandkühler has this right, as unthinking if not apologetic. The way Brayard treats gassing, if Sandkühler is being fair, sounds almost lifted from the playbook of HD.

I like this - sorry for the Google rendition: "His approach is somewhat idiosyncratic. The author compares the historical reality with a flat puzzle, piece by piece could be put together without contradiction and had to give a consistent overall picture. . . . Secondly, the author analyzes the research literature selectively. Upon closer inspection, you realize that some things are not as original as it will appear." All this resonates with me, where I used "reality" and "project management" and "classic bureaucracy" to counter this "flatness," well conveyed by Balsamo, and seeming "perfection," a perfection that leads to a strange image devoid of reality. Very damning comments on Brayard's falling behind recent scholarship, and using it selectively, in the interests of Big Theory - and his use of German Jewry as a kind of barometer for the FS. More of that strangeness.

I may have missed some of the points, given the language issue, or garbled them. But what I did grasp is in line with my reactions here, for sure. As with this thread, I almost get the feeling that a leg is being pulled . . .
Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Jeff_36 » Wed Jul 08, 2015 9:28 pm

I well understand the beuraucratic issues at hand. I think the differences between us gentlemen is as follows:

SM proposes a longstanding development of a long-held desire with a relatively early crystallization of intent.

Balsamo argues for a sudden change of policy, followed by rapid implementation of a new process.

I argue in favor of an "improvised final solution" that utilized conveniently located, already existing structures (like the Globocnik Unit) to achieve outcomes once the original process was rendered unfeasible.

Dr. Terry, if i'm not mistaken, argues that certain processes were in place on a local level, but that the threads had yet to be bound together so to speak until after Wannasee.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:04 pm

Jeff_36 wrote:I well understand the beuraucratic issues at hand.

Many of the posts and a great deal of argument in this discussion has been as though the implementation, not simply the bureaucratic, level doesn't exist, e.g., Balsamo's straw man that a general, high level approach or policy need necessarily translate into speedy completion of the extermination on the ground. My intent in posting about T-4 was to make clearer why such an argument is unrealistic. I'm not sure if I'm connecting the right dots here - but just wanted to be clearer about what I'm getting at.

Jeff_36 wrote:SM proposes a longstanding development of a long-held desire with a relatively early crystallization of intent.

But no, this isn't my argument at all. My conceptual framework is a radicalizing process, which is very different from a long-held desire to exterminate the Jews. I really do believe what I've written about the escalation of policy during this period.

Also, I don't argue that in June 1941, to pick a random month, there was a desire for systematic mass murder - a desire realized or crystallized only later. What took place by winter 1941-1942 wasn't "immanent" in earlier desire or strategizing but grew out of the practical efforts, both coordinated and not.

To tie this radicalizing process to the Wannsee protocol, I've used a concept deployed at Wannsee - "practical experience is already being collected which is of the greatest importance in relation to the future final solution of the Jewish question." I adopted this concept in the RODOH discussion and here at SSF, because I think it explains some of the thinking in Heydrich's terms: the gathering up of what was being learned from successful (and unsuccessful) efforts at solving the Jewish question into a more coherent approach (the possibilities Heydrich was now pushing under the rubric FS/"evacuation") - but with future actions within this frame, not fully designed out, also relying on cumulative practical experience. (Longerich interprets this sentence differently, IIRC).

Part of the radicalization came from the divided, competitive nature of the state and party structure; part from the ideology itself; part from "what happened" when increasingly radical steps were taken (and proven out), part from the impossible situations created by earlier radical steps (e.g., the creation of the unfit in camps and ghettos). In no way do I skip over local or regional actions (e.g., Chelmno) or other killing efforts (e.g., T-4, 14f14, 14f13) as being very important to the expansion of the "possible" and as contributory to the the evolution of thinking. I also think that the course of the war - which dictated that earlier ideas about forcible expulsion were foreclosed - has to have been part of this radicalization process.

As I wrote to Balsamo, I also don't consider there to have been a "final word," and certainly not at Wannsee, if that's what crystallization gets at, but rather a willingness to go all the way and to work out how to - if this second notion is what crystallization means, then ok.
Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:03 pm

Statistical Mechanic wrote:. . . (I wish I had a good translation of that paragraph) . . .

And thanks to a reader - you know who you are - I have it! I join Nick Terry in recommending the Sandkühler review. Very interesting material, too, on testimonies and how to place them in context.
Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Jeff_36 » Thu Jul 09, 2015 1:58 am

Many of the posts and a great deal of argument in this discussion has been as though the implementation, not simply the bureaucratic, level doesn't exist, e.g., Balsamo's straw man that a general, high level approach or policy need necessarily translate into speedy completion of the extermination on the ground. My intent in posting about T-4 was to make clearer why such an argument is unrealistic. I'm not sure if I'm connecting the right dots here - but just wanted to be clearer about what I'm getting at.


I agree with you on that. However, if your interpretation of Wannasee is correct we would have several post war testimonies discussing the explicit talk of fourth coming extermination at said meeting. Instead we have the literal exact opposite.

One would also expect to see a drop off of documentary mentions of any solution other than the Labour/killing split from that date onward. Instead we see Heydrich musing about the White sea not long afterwords, a clear indication that his mind had yet to be made up.

One would also expect a clear crystalization of actions and documaentry references to impending deportations for labour/special treatment soon afterwords. Instead we have the various ministries still {!#%@} around with old measures and no clear adaptation of a new focus.

Ok, Now I've had a while to think about this, had a few glasses of mango vodka and written it all down on paper. What follows is what I have gathered from this discussion. Call it a synthesis of my views with those of yourself, Monsieur Balsamo and Dr. Terry.

It's much more probable that Heydrich proposed a GP Ost type of solution to the attendees. This was not the final outcome but rather a snapshot of where the SS were at at that point in the thinking process. We see clear indications that the Jews were intended to be rendered extinct, but this was to be done through exhausting labour, poor conditions, and (IMO) the shooting of the nonworking Jews. All to be done in the former Soviet Territories. He articulated this more or less clearly to the attendees and may have left a few details out. The "practical experience" is pretty clearly a reference to what was being done in Riga, Lodz, and elsewhere. The fact that Lange was there is a big indication of the intent at the time and that Jews unfit for work were to be offed.

But this was a rough plan that still had a lot of maybes attached to it. A big reason for the meeting was for Heydrich to basically make clear that the Jewish Question would be the sole property of the SS.

His musings on the White sea could be seen as the exact nature of the destruction (and at that stage I concede that it was destruction that was intended) being unclear, even to him. To quote SM's protocol "practical experience was being attained". Himmler and Heydrich (hereafter known as H2) knew what end result they (and Hitler for that matter) wanted, but the in-between was unclear. It was their decision, and they had gotten the ministers out of the way. Eichmann's circular indicates that many things were still unknown.

The GG Jews were to be killed. H2 likely decided on this not long after the meeting. Buhler had made clear that they were a problem, and the incoming deportations indicated in Eichmanns circular would need empty space to be accommodated. Himmler already had an officer (Globocnik) in the GG working on a project to wipe out the Lublin Ghetto, conveniently placed to carry this measure out.

Thus began the first deportations to BST, as described in the Goebbles diary.

One thing: Goebbles indicates that the German Jews deported to the empty ghettos would suffer the same fate as the GG Jews at a later date. That seems to indicate that at some point between early February and March 27th the plan mentioned at Wannasee had been either scrapped or postponed due to the course of the war. The fate of the rest of Europes Jews was as of yet unknown.

Through April the GG action gained heat. In May the first transports of nonworking European Jews arrived at BST. This indicates that the improvised solution was now taking the forefront, achieving what the old solution proposed at Wannasee could not due to the course of the war.

In July TII opens and a flock of new personnel are sent to BST, A-B starts receiving transports at a higher rate at this time as well. That to me indicates that Late July/early August was the start of the full set of actions.

It would have been no great leap to do what they had always intended to do (kill the nonworking Jews), using different apparatuses.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby nickterry » Thu Jul 09, 2015 2:28 am

Statistical Mechanic wrote:To tie this radicalizing process to the Wannsee protocol, I've used a concept deployed at Wannsee - "practical experience is already being collected which is of the greatest importance in relation to the future final solution of the Jewish question." I adopted this concept in the RODOH discussion and here at SSF, because I think it explains some of the thinking in Heydrich's terms: the gathering up of what was being learned from successful (and unsuccessful) efforts at solving the Jewish question into a more coherent approach (the possibilities Heydrich was now pushing under the rubric FS/"evacuation") - but with future actions within this frame, not fully designed out, also relying on cumulative practical experience. (Longerich interprets this sentence differently, IIRC).


It's worth re-reading the German text of the WP as BOTH of the opening lines of the 'crucial' part can be read as a more or less direct reference to the autumn 1941 deportations (those which Eichmann described as a waystation towards the FS on 31.1.42)

from ns-archiv.de (link lost putting in next link)

Anstelle der Auswanderung ist nunmehr als weitere Lösungsmöglichkeit nach entsprechender vorheriger Genehmigung durch den Führer die Evakuierung der Juden nach dem Osten getreten.

Diese Aktionen sind jedoch lediglich als Ausweichmöglichkeiten anzusprechen, doch werden hier bereits jene praktischen Erfahrungen
gesammelt, die im Hinblick auf die kommende Endlösung der Judenfrage von wichtiger Bedeutung sind.

Avalon's translation is horrible
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/wannsee.asp

Another possible solution of the problem has now taken the place of emigration, i.e. the evacuation of the Jews to the East, provided that the Fuehrer gives the appropriate approval in advance.

These actions are, however, only to be considered provisional, but practical experience is already being collected which is of the greatest importance in relation to the future final solution of the Jewish question.

The first sentence doesn't have nearly the same conditional quality to it as the translation, whereas the 'bei Freilassung' passage has a whopping great conditional that is ignored by deniers when creating their misrepesentations. The German has no 'provided' to it whatsoever. The two sentences/oneline paragraphs refer to each other - 'these' actions plural. I.e. Lodz, Riga, Minsk, Kovno.

The protocol is pretty clear that all Jews in Europe would be caught up in the FS, The ensuing discussion indicates that Luther and the Foreign Office thought there would be few problems in western Europe. This was a novelty for the Foreign Office's Berlin departments, since the 'Wishes and Ideas' list (T/183) made no clear reference to deporting west European Jews. It did, however, speak of deporting stateless German Jews from the 'occupied territories'.

This fits with remarks made by Hitler to Seyss-Inquart and Schmidt on 26.9.41 (ADAP D/13-2, p.79), which spoke of deporting German Jews from the Netherlands. But I think in the Netherlands they had more inklings. Rajakowitsch, one of Eichmann's sidekicks, had a query about letting NSB members of Jewish origin emigrate, and was told 'no' by Eichmann on 20.12.41 (T/528). In December 1941, Rauter asked a Dutch civil servant what the reaction might be if Dutch Jews were sent to 'Poland' (doc in VEJ 5). Friedrich Schmidt ranted in the autumn of 1941 about the futility of deporting 'the Jews' to the east - they needed to be destroyed. Browning cited some remarks from a Dutch collaborator who seemed unusually well informed in late 1941. There may be 1-2 more hints from the Netherlands before Wannsee that something was coming, but these sources are enough to suggest that both the SS and civil authorities in the Netherlands were beginning to expect that they would see the last of Dutch Jews before too long.

IV B 4 were also clear by 24 December 1941 that the transport situation, as dictated by Gercke (Chief of Wehrmacht and Army Transport), prohibited even the initial 1000-man reprisal transport leaving for 'the east'. The prediction was that the transport situation would ease by February/March 1942. Given the priority accorded to organising concrete deportations of Reich Jews, as well as the need for the western countries to catch up with measures such as the yellow star and other preparations, it would be amazing if anyone in the RSHA had a clear idea what would happen with west European Jews in the short term as of 20.1.42. But the WP indicates they would be part of the Final Solution.

Brayard overinterprets some docs from March 1942 to suggest that Heydrich thought only of deporting a small quota of reprisal transports and was even thinking of leaving France until 1943 - this is indeed noted down by Zeitschel on 11.3.42, However the context for this was the meeting of 4.3.42, at which Dannecker was told, send the 1000 man reprisal transport to Auschwitz. Given that Eichmann noted severe transportation difficulties at the 6.3.42 meeting (T/734), it seems very, very, very likely that IV B 4 was told to eff off, as I have already argued above, if it thought that it could overburden west-east transport lines with unnecessary deportations, especially when there were absolutely no clear reception possibilities for killing, labour or dumping.

Heydrich told Tuka on 10 April 1942 that Slovak Jews were part of a half million strong deportation program across Europe. This remark doesn't make much sense if restricted to the Reich alone, but does suggest that western Europe was on the cards. In May 1942 in Paris, he complained of transport difficulties, and Dannecker was told of them more directly on 13 May 1942 by the Wehrmacht railways commander.

From the perspective of the professional genocidaire, January to June 1942 must have been a depressing time, seeing how the Wehrmacht was shipping division after division eastwards, and Goering wanted raw materials, workers and other economic resources shipped to the Reich. The transport crises of those months, and the scale of forces transferred, should be taken more seriously as a factor explaining the 'delay' in implementation. This is not the same thing as radicalisation - it was a matter of concretising hitherto woolly ideas and implementing them. Constant blether about radicalisation, much less cumulative radicalisation, is horrifically teleological, and does a gross disservice to the hundreds of thousnads of victims who died on the way to the radicalised moment.

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Thu Jul 09, 2015 2:45 am

nickterry wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:To tie this radicalizing process to the Wannsee protocol, I've used a concept deployed at Wannsee - "practical experience is already being collected which is of the greatest importance in relation to the future final solution of the Jewish question." I adopted this concept in the RODOH discussion and here at SSF, because I think it explains some of the thinking in Heydrich's terms: the gathering up of what was being learned from successful (and unsuccessful) efforts at solving the Jewish question into a more coherent approach (the possibilities Heydrich was now pushing under the rubric FS/"evacuation") - but with future actions within this frame, not fully designed out, also relying on cumulative practical experience. (Longerich interprets this sentence differently, IIRC).


It's worth re-reading the German text of the WP as BOTH of the opening lines of the 'crucial' part can be read as a more or less direct reference to the autumn 1941 deportations (those which Eichmann described as a waystation towards the FS on 31.1.42)

from ns-archiv.de (link lost putting in next link)

Anstelle der Auswanderung ist nunmehr als weitere Lösungsmöglichkeit nach entsprechender vorheriger Genehmigung durch den Führer die Evakuierung der Juden nach dem Osten getreten.

Diese Aktionen sind jedoch lediglich als Ausweichmöglichkeiten anzusprechen, doch werden hier bereits jene praktischen Erfahrungen
gesammelt, die im Hinblick auf die kommende Endlösung der Judenfrage von wichtiger Bedeutung sind.

Avalon's translation is horrible
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/wannsee.asp

Another possible solution of the problem has now taken the place of emigration, i.e. the evacuation of the Jews to the East, provided that the Fuehrer gives the appropriate approval in advance.

These actions are, however, only to be considered provisional, but practical experience is already being collected which is of the greatest importance in relation to the future final solution of the Jewish question.

The first sentence doesn't have nearly the same conditional quality to it as the translation, whereas the 'bei Freilassung' passage has a whopping great conditional that is ignored by deniers when creating their misrepesentations. The German has no 'provided' to it whatsoever. The two sentences/oneline paragraphs refer to each other - 'these' actions plural. I.e. Lodz, Riga, Minsk, Kovno.

The protocol is pretty clear that all Jews in Europe would be caught up in the FS, The ensuing discussion indicates that Luther and the Foreign Office thought there would be few problems in western Europe. This was a novelty for the Foreign Office's Berlin departments, since the 'Wishes and Ideas' list (T/183) made no clear reference to deporting west European Jews. It did, however, speak of deporting stateless German Jews from the 'occupied territories'.

This fits with remarks made by Hitler to Seyss-Inquart and Schmidt on 26.9.41 (ADAP D/13-2, p.79), which spoke of deporting German Jews from the Netherlands. But I think in the Netherlands they had more inklings. Rajakowitsch, one of Eichmann's sidekicks, had a query about letting NSB members of Jewish origin emigrate, and was told 'no' by Eichmann on 20.12.41 (T/528). In December 1941, Rauter asked a Dutch civil servant what the reaction might be if Dutch Jews were sent to 'Poland' (doc in VEJ 5). Friedrich Schmidt ranted in the autumn of 1941 about the futility of deporting 'the Jews' to the east - they needed to be destroyed. Browning cited some remarks from a Dutch collaborator who seemed unusually well informed in late 1941. There may be 1-2 more hints from the Netherlands before Wannsee that something was coming, but these sources are enough to suggest that both the SS and civil authorities in the Netherlands were beginning to expect that they would see the last of Dutch Jews before too long.

IV B 4 were also clear by 24 December 1941 that the transport situation, as dictated by Gercke (Chief of Wehrmacht and Army Transport), prohibited even the initial 1000-man reprisal transport leaving for 'the east'. The prediction was that the transport situation would ease by February/March 1942. Given the priority accorded to organising concrete deportations of Reich Jews, as well as the need for the western countries to catch up with measures such as the yellow star and other preparations, it would be amazing if anyone in the RSHA had a clear idea what would happen with west European Jews in the short term as of 20.1.42. But the WP indicates they would be part of the Final Solution.

Brayard overinterprets some docs from March 1942 to suggest that Heydrich thought only of deporting a small quota of reprisal transports and was even thinking of leaving France until 1943 - this is indeed noted down by Zeitschel on 11.3.42, However the context for this was the meeting of 4.3.42, at which Dannecker was told, send the 1000 man reprisal transport to Auschwitz. Given that Eichmann noted severe transportation difficulties at the 6.3.42 meeting (T/734), it seems very, very, very likely that IV B 4 was told to eff off, as I have already argued above, if it thought that it could overburden west-east transport lines with unnecessary deportations, especially when there were absolutely no clear reception possibilities for killing, labour or dumping.

Heydrich told Tuka on 10 April 1942 that Slovak Jews were part of a half million strong deportation program across Europe. This remark doesn't make much sense if restricted to the Reich alone, but does suggest that western Europe was on the cards. In May 1942 in Paris, he complained of transport difficulties, and Dannecker was told of them more directly on 13 May 1942 by the Wehrmacht railways commander.

Very helpful. I think you know I agree with the above. I would add in Dannecker in Paris as full of inklings, premature proposals, etc.

nickterry wrote:From the perspective of the professional genocidaire, January to June 1942 must have been a depressing time, seeing how the Wehrmacht was shipping division after division eastwards, and Goering wanted raw materials, workers and other economic resources shipped to the Reich. The transport crises of those months, and the scale of forces transferred, should be taken more seriously as a factor explaining the 'delay' in implementation. This is not the same thing as radicalisation - it was a matter of concretising hitherto woolly ideas and implementing them. Constant blether about radicalisation, much less cumulative radicalisation, is horrifically teleological, and does a gross disservice to the hundreds of thousnads of victims who died on the way to the radicalised moment.

Agreed, and I didn't mean to wave a magic wand of radicalization to explain all! Going back to the France thread here, I've been trying to draw a distinction between the general or overall radicalization of Jewish policy during the period and then the implementation/management issues that came with trying to concretize and play out the generally agreed policy, including delays and accelerations, etc, so I also very much appreciate this clarification, as it underscores an important point I've been failing to get across.
Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97

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Re: Yet another Wannsee thread (with Brayard)

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Thu Jul 09, 2015 3:33 am

Jeff_36 wrote:. . . if your interpretation of Wannasee is correct we would have several post war testimonies discussing the explicit talk of fourth coming extermination at said meeting. Instead we have the literal exact opposite.

Why? We have testimonies like Liebbrandt's, which is almost comical if it weren't so appalling, and then what you will read about below. I don't think you've really dealt with Xcalibur's earlier comment to you about this. Those who testified thinking that the protocol was lost denied being at the meeting or that it dealt with the FS; those confronted with the protocol and potentially to be damaged by it, spun alternative theories (e.g., it was all about the Mischlinge and mixed marriages); and Eichmann - who had nothing to lose and had been cornered by Less with document after document - admitted what he had to but tried to spin it as part of his "little man" defense. There is nothing dissonant in any of this.

Jeff_36 wrote:One would also expect to see a drop off of documentary mentions of any solution other than the Labour/killing split from that date onward. Instead we see Heydrich musing about the White sea not long afterwords, a clear indication that his mind had yet to be made up.

Not necessarily. Depends on who is saying what to whom, who's been briefed, etc. Madagascar comes up from time to time after when we can document the abandonment of that planning. Again, we are talking about a framework, not a tight master plan. In addition to which, perfectly tight alignment on a new policy is not what you'd see in any government or large institution. You know my views on Heydrich and the White Sea, so I won't repeat them here.

Jeff_36 wrote:One would also expect a clear crystalization of actions and documaentry references to impending deportations for labour/special treatment soon afterwords. Instead we have the various ministries still {!#%@} around with old measures and no clear adaptation of a new focus.

I'm not really following this comment . . .

Anyway, it seems you're jettisoning everything in Gerlach concerning "December 1941"?

For now, however, I want to drill down a bit into the question of postwar testimonies. So, in response to the ongoing discussion about how to read post-war testimony of interested participants . . .

In his book on Wannsee, Mark Roseman (a historian whose work I admire) informed readers that Bernhard Lösener, who worked for Stuckart, testified after the war that Stuckart got "precise knowledge" of the FS, as we understand it today, at Wannsee. IIRC Stuckart himself gave postwar explanations for his radical views on compulsory sterilizations at Wannsee - saying that they were a way to subvert or get around the policy of "evacuation." At the Ministries trial Stuckart denied ever receiving the protocol although he was at the meeting. Roseman points out that the protocol was delivered with invitations for the 2nd FS conference, to which Stuckart had delegated IIRC Feldscher to attend. I don't see how we can credit much to Stuckart's post-war "explanations" and rationalizations given this and given Sandkühler's note below (nor to Brayard, given my footnote on Lösener). According to Roseman, Stuckart's post-war version of Wannsee was that Heydrich had called the Wannsee conference to resolve problems with Mischlinge and Jews in mixed marriages; that argument is patently absurd but it is what Brayard is trying to sell - and Balsamo is buying.*

Here are some points from Sandkühler’s review of Brayard’s book that flesh out Roseman’s observations on Stuckart (right, none of this is new, as Sandkühler points out, in exasperation - Roseman’s book was published after all over a decade ago and was synthetic, not ground-breaking):

- according to Sandkühler, Brayard failed to assess the range of sources available and required for understanding the conference

- on 19 December 1941 Lösener had a conversation with Stuckart concerning departmental issues, relations to the RSHA, and the shooting of deported German Jews in Kaunas and Riga - that is, German Jews

- Brayard argues, according to Sandkühler using Lösener's unreliable testimony, that these shootings, pre-dating an extermination program targeting the European Jews, challenge the prevailing interpretation of the Wannsee Conference, especially as to the inclusion of western Jews in the FS (I may have this a bit garbled but I think the overall thrust here is in keeping with Sandkühler's review)

- Sandkühler counters Brayard using an important contemporary document which Brayard's ignored

- that contemporary document, found in Lösener's files, is a note written by Lösener describing his discussion with Stuckart, as mentioned above (Lösener, says the note, had heard about the 30 November shooting of 1,000 deported Reich Jews near Riga from Feldscher, his assistant, as Roseman also wrote in 2002)

- on account of this outrage, which offended Lösener** (Lösener felt that the extension of the murders from Polish and Russian Jews to German Jews was unacceptable), he requested a transfer out of the department - again, on account of the inclusion of the German Jews in what he understood to be the FS

- here I try using Sandkühler’s wording, rough translation: “For Lösener the cruel shooting of the Berlin Jews was a sign that the Reichssicherheitshauptamt [RSHA] had now taken the Jewish question to the stage of "Endlösung" [Final Solution] and which the desk officer for racial law fittingly described as 'bestial death in the shortest time'"

- Sandkühler makes clear that Stuckart didn't challenge Lösener’s observation but instead informed him that the action against the "evacuated Jews" was based "on a decision made on the highest level”

- and Stuckart reiterated for Lösener the "correct" thinking behind his position: the FS had to be considered (a) from a higher-level viewpoint and (b) in the context of the war (10s of 1000s of German soldiers dying in the east, a likely long war, and the guilt of the Jews for the war, their deserving harsh measures***)

Here Sandkühler

1) raises a very important challenge to Brayard’s “Mischlinge” thesis concerning Wannsee by impeaching star witnesses Stuckart and Lösener
2) shows how to read post-war testimony, interrogating what the witness has claimed using contemporary sources whenever possible
3) provides grounds for readers, like me, who are not familiar with Brayard’s work to approach it with extra caution due to potential bias and/or inadequate research

- - - - -

* in his memoir, Lösener states that, as to the FS, “Stuckart found out more details at the notorious ‘Wannsee Conference in January 1942 at the latest” but that Lösener himself did not learn details until after the war (Schleunes, ed, Legislating the Holocaust, p 81); Lösener, by his own account, was labeled a “friend of the Jews” and arrested by the Gestapo in the dragnet following the attempt on Hitler’s life in 1944; in the Ministries trial, Lösener’s testimony echoed Stuckart’s that sterilization proposals were to prevent Jews from falling into the “arbitrary excesses” of Himmler’s SS; also, in testifying at the trial on the Riga conversation detailed below, Lösener explained that he had drafted the 16 March 1942 letter discussed by Brayard (p 144) and he described the "natural leaders" trope as “a standing argument of Herr Stuckart which he had already used and advanced in 1935” (p 145), reducing its relevance to these specifics; now, asked at trial if this letter indicated Lösener’s belief that deported German Jews would remain alive after being sent out of the Reich, Lösener replied (and this is very damaging to Brayard), “I can’t say yes to this question if it is held in such a general way, I myself was very pessimistic”; under repeated (leading) questioning on this, Lösener couldn't bring himself to disagree - earlier in his testimony Lösener explained how German Jews in mixed marriages, for example, were “protected from the general fate of the Jews” (p 140), again directly counter to Brayard’s formula

** Lösener at the Ministries trial testified that the Riga shootings were “disgusting” (p 144)

*** again, a rough translation, according to Lösener's notes, Stuckart quoted verbatim: "Keep in mind that the Jews are to blame for every German death because it is only due to them that we have to lead this war. Jewry forced that onto us. If we hit back harshly, one has to accept the world-historical necessity of this harshness and cannot timidly ask if this or that evacuated Jew, when he meets his fate, personally is to blame."
Nazism conspired to create a sense of festival time. . . . Tragically for humanity, the party generating it was the type not associated with the coloured costumes of the Brazilian Carnival, but with the brown-shirted thuggery of the NSDAP. The contrast between the dance and the march, between the samba and the strains of the Horst Wessel Lied, points to the gulf separating a life-asserting community from a community which exists only by creating a demonized other. - RG '97


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